(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Children's Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "CMH Pub 11-4-1 The Employment Of Negro Troops"

The Employment of 
Negro Troops 




Ulysses Lbb 



UNITED STATES ARMY /jV WORLD WAR II 




THE EMPLOYMENT OF 
NEGRO TROOPS 




CENTER OF MILITARY HISTO. 
UNITED STATES ARMY 
WASHINGTON D. C, 2001 



Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 66-60003 



First Printed 1963-CMH Pub 11-4-1 



For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office 
Internet: bookstore.gpo.gov Phone: (202) 512-1800 Fax: (202) 512-2250 
Mail: Stop SSOP, Washington, DC 20402-0001 



UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II 
Stetson Conn, General Editor 

Advisory Committee 

(As ftf 15 June 1965) 

Fred C. Cole Li. Gen. August Schomburg 

Washington and Lee University Industrial College of the Armed Forces 

Maj. Gen. David W. Gray 
U.S. Continental Army Command 

Brig. Gen. Jaroslav T. Folda 
U.S. Army War College 

Brig. Gen. Elias C. Townsend 
U.S. Army Command and General Staff College 

Lt. Col. Thomas E. Griess 
United States Military Academy 

Theodore Ropp 
Duke University 



James A. Field, Jr. 
Swarthmore College 



May 

Harvard University 
Earl Pomeroy 



Tulane University 



Office of the Chief of Military History 
Brig. Gen. Hal C. Pattison, Chief of Military History 



Chief Historian 
Chief, Histories Division 
Chief, Editorial and 
Editor in Chief 



Stetson Conn 
Col. Paul P. Hinkley 
Col. Joseph S. Coulter 
Joseph R. Friedman 



Hi 



. . . to Those Who Served 



Foreword 

To the First Paperback Edition 



As in the case of some other titles in the United States Army in 
World War II series, Ulysses Lee's The Employment of Negro Troops has 
been long and widely recognized as a standard work on its subject. Al- 
though revised and consolidated before publication, the study was writ- 
ten largely between 1947 and 1951. If the now much-cited title has an 
echo of an earlier period, that very echo testifies to the book's rather 
remarkable twofold achievement: that Lee wrote it when he did, well 
before the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and that its reputa- 
tion — for authority and objectivity — has endured so well. 

The U.S. Army Center of Military History thus takes pleasure in 
publishing this first paperback edition of a landmark study in military 
and social history. As a key source for understanding the integration of 
the Army, Dr. Lee's work eminently deserves a continuing readership. 



Washington, D.C. 
14 April 1994 



HAROLD W. NELSON 
Brigadier General, USA 
Chief of Military History 



The Author 



Ulysses Lee, now Professor of English at M organ Slate College, Balti- 
more, was a member of the Office of the Chief of Military History from 
1946 to 1952, concluding a decade of active Army officer service in ranks 
from first lieutenant to major. In World War 11 he served as an Education 
Officer and Editorial Analyst in the field and in the headquarters of Army 
Service Forces; for seven years thereafter he was the military history 
specialist on Negroes in the Army and prepared this volume. 

A graduate of Howard University, Dr. Lee taught at Lincoln University, 
Pennsylvania, and attended the University of Chicago as a Rosenwald Fel- 
low between 1936 and his entry into military service in 1942, Pie received 
his doctorate in the history of culture from the University of Chicago in 
1953, and from then until going to Morgan in 1956 he taught at Lincoln 
University, Missouri. Co-editor of The Negro Caravan, an anthology of 
writings by American Negroes published in 1941. he was author -editor of 
the Army Service Forces manual, Leadership and the Negro Soldier. 
published in 1944. and has been the author of many reviews and articles 
published before and since. Dr. Lee has also been associate editor of The 
Midwest Journal of the College Language Association and a member of the 
editorial board of The Journal of Negro History. 



viii 



Preface 



Recognizing fcft&t the story of Negro participation in military service 
du ing World War II was of national interest as well as of great value for 
fut ire military planning, the Assistant Secretary of War in February 1944 
recommended preparation of a book on this subject. The opportunity to 
undertake it came two years later with the assignment to the Army's Histori- 
cal .division of the author, then a captain and a man highly qualified by 
training and experience to write such a work. After careful examination of 
the ;ources and reflection Captain Lee concluded that it would be im- 
pract cable to write a comprehensive and balanced history about Negro 
soldiers in a single volume. His plan, formally approved in August 1946, 
was tt focus his own work on the development of Anny policies in the use 
of Negroes in military service and on the problems associated with the ex 
ecution of these policies at home and abroad, leaving to the authors of 
other "'Olumes in the Army's World War II series, then taking shape, the 
respon: ibility for covering activities of Negroes in particular topical areas. 

This definition of the author's objective is needed in order to under- 
stand why he has described his work "in no sense a history of Negro troops 
in World War II." Writing some years ago, he explained: "The purpose 
of the present volume is to bring together the significant experience of the 
Army in dealing with an important national question: the full use of the 
human resources represented by that 10 percent of national population that 
is Negro. It docs not attempt to follow, in narrative form, the participation 
of Negro troops in the many branches, commands, and units of the Army. 
... A fully descriptive title for the present volume, in the nineteenth century 
manner, would read: 'The U.S. Army and Its Use of Negro Troops in 
World War II: Problems in the Development and Application of Policy 
with Some Attention to the Results, Public and Military.'" Thus, in 
accordance with his objective, the author gives considerably more attention 
to the employment of Negroes as combat soldiers than to their use as service 
troops overseas. Even though a large majority of the Negroes sent overseas 
saw duty in service rather than in combat units, their employment in service 
forces did not present the same number or degree of problems. 

The volume opens with background chapters recalling the experience of 
Negroes in the Army in World War I, the position of Negroes in the Army 
between wars, and Army planning for their use in another great war, as well 



as Lhe clash of public and private views over employment of Negroes as 
soldiers. It continues with chapters on the particular problems associated 
with absorbing large numbers of Negroes into the Army— the provision of 
separate facilities for them, their leadership and training diificulties, their 
physical fitness for service, morale factors influencing their eagerness to 
serve, and the disurders that attracted so much attention to the problems of 
their service. The concluding eight chapters are concerned principally 
with the employment of Negro soldiers overseas, in ground and air combat 
units and in service units. 

The author wrote most of this volume between 1947 and 1951, and the 
University of Chicago accepted its opening chapters as a doctoral disserta- 
tion. After Dr. Lee left the Army to return to teaching, he revised his 
work in the light of comments and criticisms received from the many 
reviewers of his original draft. As revised by Dr. Lee, the work was still too 
long for publication as a single volume; and in my capacity of General 
Editor I have reduced the revised manuscript considerably in length and 
reorganized and consolidated certain of the original chapters. The changes 
made by me were along lines agreed to in conferences with Dr. Lee and in 
consonance with his expressed wishes, or at least with my interpretation of 
them. 

Certain other volumes of this series, as planned in !94fi, gave particular 
attention to the Army's use of Negroes, notably The Procurement and 
Training of Ground Combat Troops, by Robert R. Palmer, Bell I. Wiley, 
and William R. Keast; The Women's Army Corps, by Mattie E. Tread well; 
and The Army and Industrial Manpower, by Byron Fairchild and Jonathan 
Grossman. Bell I. Wiley's Army Ground Forces Study No. 36, "The Train- 
ing of Negro Troops," offers an interesting comparative treatment of that 
topic. Dennis D. Nelson's study, "The Integration of the Negro into the 
United States Navy, 1776-1947," deals mostly with the Navy's policies and 
practices during World War II, and the monograph by Jean Byers, "A 
Study of the Negro in Military Service," describes policies and practices in 
both services during the war. The volume by Charles E. Francis, Tuskegee 
Airmen: The Story of the Negro in the U.S. Air Force (Boston, 1956), and 
the one by Lee Nichols, Breakthrough on the Color Front (New York, 
1954) > offer useful insight into the military service of Negroes during and 
after the waT, The reader is also referred, for more detailed maps of the 
many theaters of war in which Negroes served, to the theater volumes of the 
Army's World War II series. 

In its planning, this work owes much to the Army's first Chief Historian, 
Dr. Walter L. Wright. Jr. The original draft, less the two concluding 
chapters, was carefully reviewed and criticized by a panel under the chair- 
manship of his successor, Dr. Kent Roberts Greenfield, which met on 4 
January 1952. Panel critics in addition to Dr. Greenfield were Dr. John 
Hope Franklin, then Professor of History at Howard University; General 



x 



Wade H. Haislip (USA Ret.), then Chief of the General Staff's Personnel 
Division; Lt. Gen. Arthur G. Trudeau (USA Ret,), then Commandant of. 
the Army War College; Dr. William T. Hutchinson, Professor of History 
at the University of Chicago; Col. (now Brig. Gen.) George C, O'Connor, 
then Chief, Histories Division, OCMH; and Dr. Donald R. Young of the 
Russell Sage Foundation. Paralleling this panel review all or parts o£ the 
author s work went to a large number of knowledgeable critics, many of 
thein the leaders of Negro troops during the war, and the work as revised 
lor publication has also been reviewed by several individuals qualified to 
do so. To all of these, named and unnamed, who have read and criticized 
this work, the author arid the Office of the Chief of Military History owe a 
debt of gratitude. 

Acknowledgment is due also to those who have contributed materially 
in preparing this work for publication: Mrs. Loretto C. Stevens, assistant 
editor; Miss Barbara J. Harris, editorial derk; Mrs. Norma B. Sherns, 
photographic editor; and Billy C. Mossraan, map compiler, Mrs. Dorothy 
Neill McCabe prepared the index. 

Prefaces usually conclude not only with acknowledgments of assistance 
but also with a statement of the author's sole responsibility for any errors 
of fact or flaws of interpretation. Since Dr. Lee lias not been able to 
participate fully in the final revision and editing of his work, it would be 
improper to hold him responsible for the contents of the work as printed, 
1 accept this responsibility. 

Washington, DC. STETSON CONN 

18 June 1965 Chief Historian and 

General Editor 



xi 



Contents 



Chapter Page 

I. AFTER WORLD WAR 1 3 

The Military Orientation of the Negro Public 3 

Praise in the Press 6 

Under the Surface 8 

An Army Postwar View 15 

II. PEACETIME PRACTICES AND PLANS 21 

"There Is Not Enough Army to Go Around" 23 

The Civilian Components 29 

The Planning Problem 30 

The 1922 Plan 32 

Modifications and Developments, 1923—33 35 

The 1937 Plan 37 

The New Mobilization Regulations 39 

Percentages and Types 41 

The Revisions of 1940 46 

On the Threshold of Mobilization 48 

III. THE NEGRO POSITION DEFINED 51 

Beginning Campaigns 52 

The Air Corps and Public Law 18 55 

Subversives and Patriots 65 

New Bills and Units 68 

The Selective Training and Service Act . , 71 

Announcements and Appointments 74 

The Lines Form 82 

IV. EXPANDING NEGRO STRENGTH 88 

Initial Expansion 88 

Housing 97 

Camp Locations 100 

Cadres for Units 107 

V. UNITS: THE QUOTA PHASE Ill 

The Distribution Problem Ill 

Ground Units for the Air Forces 113 

xiii 



Chapter Poge 
V. UNITS: THE QUOTA PHASE-Continued 

Flying Units 116 

Nondivisional Ground Combat Units 119 

The Traditional Arms: Divisions 122 

Service Units 128 

Miscellaneous Units and Minor Problems 133 

VI. PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 136 

The Hastie Survey 136 

The Editors' Conference and Its Aftermath 141 

Action on the Hastie Proposals 147 

A War Plans Approach 150 

The Chamberlain Plan 152 

The Advisory Committee 157 

Air Forces Proposals and Hastie' s Resignation 162 

Gibson and the Aide's Office 174 

VII. OFFICERS FOR NEGRO TROOPS 179 

Initial Procurement Policies 180 

White Officers and Their Leadership Dilemma 182 

White Officers: The Search for Standards 188 

Plans for Mobilizing Negro Officers 191 

The Policy in Operation 195 

Command Problems in the Negro Regiments 198 

Officer Candidates 202 

VIII. THE QUEST FOR LEADERSHIP CONTINUES 205 

Plans After Pearl Harbor 205 

The Negro Officer Troop Basis 208 

The Negro Officer Candidate Supply 211 

Assignment Difficulties 212 

Low Proficiency and Other Limitations 213 

Mechanics of Assignment 216 

Negro Officers' Leadership Dilemma 219 

Mixed Staffs and Their Problems 220 

Men of the Spirit 225 

"Weeding Out": Rotation and Reclassification 231 

Unending Quest 237 

IX. UNITS: MEN AND TRAINING 239 

Standards and Inductions . 239 

Classification Tests 241 

Scores and Units 243 

Screening Proposals 248 

Special Training Plans 257 

The Plan in Operation 261 

xiv 



Chapter Page 
IX. UNITS: MEN AND TRAINING-Coiuinuecl 

Service Command Special Training Units 263 

Instructional Problems 265 

Barriers to Advanced Training 270 

X. PHYSICAL FITNESS 275 

Health and Inductions 275 

The Venereal Disease Problem 276 

The Antivenereal Disease Campaign 278 

The Fry Problem 281 

The Tuskegee Program 286 

General Fitness for Full Duty 291 

XI. MORALE 300 

Recreational Facilities 302 

Camp Towns 309 

The All-Negro Posts 312 

Transportation 315 

The Impact of Intangibles 324 

Symbols and Apprehensions 331 

Esprit 332 

Mission and Morale 339 

XII. HARVEST OF DISORDER 348 

The March of Violence 349 

First Correctives 357 

Reactions and Resolutions 359 

Public Approaches 363 

Renewal and Reassessment 366 

Individual Violence 374 

Civilian Disorders 376 

XIII. TOWARD AN OBJECTIVE 380 

Advice to Commanders , 381 

The Bureau of Public Relations and the Press 383 

Films 387 

Instruction in Leadership 389 

New Instructions on Facilities 397 

Developments in ASF 401 

XIV. MANPOWER AND READJUSTMENTS 405 

Military Manpower for 1943-45 405 

Selective Service Shortages and Quotas 408 

General Trends, 1943 414 

Flexible Organization and Negro Units 417 

Shifting Manpower Allocations 419 

Women and Manpower 421 



xv 



Chapter Page 
XIV. MANPOWER AND READJUSTMENTS Continued 

Conversions and Inactivalions 424 

The End of Proportional Representation 425 

XV. OVERSEAS DEPLOYMENT AND THE NATURE OF UNITS 428 

Establishing a Policy 428 

Developing Practices 431 

Staff Approaches and Surveys 434 

Problems Overseas 437 

Deployment and the Future of Units 441 

Unit Shortages and Shipment Policies 445 

Public Concern 448 

XVI. INTRODUCTION TO COMBAT: AIR PHASE 

AND AFTERMATH 450 

The Fighter Program 451 

Chill Upon the Future 452 

The 99th: Catalyst 456 

A Closer View 458 

Expansion in the Air Program 461 

The 99th Shakes Off a Chill 466 

XVII. CONVERSIONS AND COMMITMENTS 468 

State of the Units 468 

Infantry Deployment 471 

Reactions to Conversions . . 474 

The McCloy Committee Faces the Issue 481 

Readiness for Overseas Movement 485 

XVIII. GROUND, AIR, AND THE ASSET SIDE 497 

The 24th Infantry 497 

The 93d Division 500 

The 24th Infantry on Bougainville 502 

The 25th Regimental Combat Team 504 

After Bougainville 515 

The Fighter Units 517 

The "Asset Side" 523 

The Asset Side? 529 

XIX. MOUNTAIN AND PLAIN 536 

The 370th Regimental Combat Team: The First Six Weeks 539 

Shift to the Sea 544 

Bowed Before Massa 547 

The Full Division Arrives 553 

A Fourth Hand 557 

First Reports 560 

Serchio Valley Counterattack 562 



XVI 



Chapter Page 
XIX. MOUNTAIN AND PLAIN-Continued 

Winter Defense 567 

February Attack 568 

Reorganized Again 572 

The Gibson Visit 575 

SECOND WIND 579 

New Winds Blowing 588 

XX. SERVICE UNITS AROUND THE WORLD 591 

The First Units Out 594 

Road Builders 609 

Liberia Force 619 

Rear Area Employment 622 

Service Units in the Combat Zone 636 

XXI. ARTILLERY AND ARMORED UNITS IN THE ETO . . 644 

Artillery 644 

Tanks and Tank Destroyers 660 

XXII. VOLUNTEER INFANTRY REPLACEMENTS 688 

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 707 

GLOSSARY 709 

BASIC MILITARY MAP SYMBOLS 715 

INDEX 719 

Tables 

No. 

1. Negro Units in Protective Mobilization Plan, 1940 (Continental 

United States) 43 

2. Racial Distribution by Types of Service (Enlisted Only) , 31 

December 1942 134 

3. Negro National Guard Officers, 24 September 1940 192 

4. Negro Reserve Officers Eligible for Active Duty, 30 June 1940 ... 193 

5. Distribution of Army General Classification Test Scores, March 

1941-December 1942 244 

6. Mechanical Aptitude Test Score Distributions for Men Processed at 

Reception Centers, September-December 1942 245 

7. Army General Classification Test Scores of Enlisted Personnel, 46th 

Field Artillery Brigade, Camp Livingston, Alabama, 30 April 1942 247 

8. Separations of Negro Enlisted Men by Selected Causes, December 

1941-May 1945 299 

9. Racial Distribution, Troop Basis, 1943 (Enlisted Strengths) . . 406 
10. Accessions of Enlisted Men by Source, July 1940-August 1945 .... 414 



xvn 



No. Pnge 

11. Quarterly Negro Strength and Total Strength of the Army, De- 

cember 1941 -December 1945 415 

12. Quarterly Negro Strength of the Army, by Category, December 

1941-December 1945 416 

Maps 

1. The Area of Operations, 1 September 1944 — 24 April 1945 .... facing 536 

2. The Massa Area 546 

3. The Serchio Valley 563 

Illustrations 

Col. Charles Young as a Captain 9 

2d Lt. John H. Alexander 12 

Brig. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis 78 

Judge William H. Hastie 79 

Maj. Gen. Walter R, Weaver at Tuskegee 120 

The Lonely Eagles 121 

Cavalrymen Leaving West Riding Hall, Fort Riley 124 

Military Police Unit, Columbus, Georgia 132 

Paratrooper Trainees 161 

99th Fighter Squadron Trainees 253 

Watching a Boxing Match at Camp Claiborne, 1943 301 

ANP War Correspondent Interviewing Signalmen 386 

Hospitality at a British Pub 442 

Air Base Security Troops, North Africa 444 

Lt. Col. Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., at Press Conference 454 

24th Infantrymen Plotting Defensive Positions, Bougainville .... 503 

Knee-Deep in Mud 510 

332d Fighter Group Pilots Being Briefed 519 

Unloading Supplies at Hollandia 522 

Col. Julian G. Hearne, Jr., Accepts Japanese Sword of Surrender . . . 534 

I05-mm. Howitzers of 598th Field Artillery Firing Across the Arno . . . 540 

Unit of 370th RCT Crossing the Serchio 541 

365th Infantrymen Pinned Down by Enemy Fire 568 

758th Tank Battalion Supporting Advance, Mount Belvedere .... 585 

Steel Bridge Over the Laloki River 603 

Operating Heavy Equipment on the Alaska Highway 610 

Engineer Troops on the Ledo Road 612 



xviii 



Page 

12-ton Pneumatic Float Bridge, Burma 614 

Overnight Stop Along the Ledo Road 620 

Baseball Game 621 

Transferring D-D ay Casualties at Southampton 628 

Red Ball Express - 632 

Smoke Screen for Third Army 635 

General Dwight D. Eisenhower at Cherbourg 641 

Field Piece in the Periers Sector 645 

Artillerymen Firing 8-inch Howitzer . 655 

Volunteers for Combat Infantry Replacement .......... 692 

47th Reinforcement Battalion in Training 694 

All illustrations are from Department of Defense files, with the exception 
of the portrait on page 79 by Fabian Bachrach, courtesy of Judge William H. 
Hastie, and the photograph on page 534, courtesy of Col. Julian G. Hearne, Jr. 



xix 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



CHAPTER I 



After World War I 



For a decade or more after World War 
I the American public as a whole was 
little concerned with the peacetime 
Army. It was considerably less con- 
cerned with the Army's plans for the 
current or future use of national man- 
power. For a time in the middle and 
late twenties, war memoirs, fiction, and 
drama enjoyed a vogue, but the general 
interest in contemporary military mat- 
ters was aroused mainly by war revela- 
tions, public controversies such as that 
surrounding Brig. Gen. William Mit- 
chell's advocacy of an autonomous air 
force, and changes in the high command 
of the services. Demobilization, dis- 
armament, international agreements for 
peace, and economy in public expendi- 
tures were successively central to the 
thinking of the times. They deflected 
public interest from serious concern 
with the internal problems and needs of 
the armed forces. There was a general 
idea abroad that in the event of a na- 
tional emergency the Army, backed by 
the civilian population, should be pre- 
pared. But the likelihood of a national 
emergency seemed remote indeed in an 
era devoted to arms reduction and 
treaties of peace and friendship. 

American Negroes shared the general 
public attitude. In the period immedi- 
ately following World War I, they had 
current and pressing domestic problems 
of their own to claim their attention. 



Northern manufacturing areas, where 
heavy migrations of Negro labor from 
the South introduced a set of problems 
generally unknown before the war, were 
in the throes of postwar readjustment. 
Full-scale race riots had broken out dur- 
ing the war and in the years immediately 
thereafter in East St. Louis, Houston, 
Chester, Washington, Chicago, and 
Tulsa. Racial troubles on a smaller 
scale flared elsewhere. The Negro press, 
churches, and social work organizations 
—the directing forces of Negro public 
opinion— had their hands full dealing 
with these new postwar problems. 

The Military Orientation of the 
Negro Public 

Concern with the pressing problems of 
the postwar period did not cause the 
Negro public wholly to lose sight of its 
relations with the armed forces. The 
Army and military life had long oc- 
cupied a position of relatively greater 
concern and importance to the Negro 
public than to Americans in general. 
Soldiering had been an honored career 
for the few Negroes who were able to 
enter upon it. In the restricted range 
of economic opportunities open to them, 
the military life ranked high. Thus the 
Army and its policies remained a signif- 
icant center of interest to Negro or- 
ganizations, to the press, and to the 



4 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



public as a whole. It was one of the 
few national endeavors in which Negroes 
had had a relatively secure position and 
which, at least in time of war, could 
lead to national recognition of their 
worth as citizens and their potential as 
partners in a common undertaking. 

Since the Civil War, the Army had 
maintained four Regular Army Negro 
regiments, the gth and 10th Cavalry and 
the 24th and 25th Infantry. The men 
of these regiments were the legatees of 
the Civil War troops out of which the 
units had been organized and of the 
Indian fighters and plains soldiers who 
filled their ranks until the turn of the 
century. Until World War II there 
were few Negro communities that did 
not have several honored men of the 
Grand Army of the Republic who could 
be pointed to with pride. Retired in- 
fantry and cavalry sergeants from the 
Regular Army were often leading spirits 
in Negro community life. Some of the 
oldest and best known of the Negro 
schools— Howard, Hampton, Fisk— were 
founded by Union generals. One of 
the schools, Lincoln Institute, later 
Lincoln University, in Missouri, was 
established with funds given by the en- 
listed men of regiments of the United 
States Colored Troops after the Civil 
War. Wilberforce, in Ohio, was proud 
of its pre-Spanish-American War status 
as the only Negro college with a depart- 
ment of military training to which Army 
instructors were detailed. 

Orators and ministers, educators and 
politicians, had extolled the Negro 
soldier as an example of courage and 
loyalty and skill to such a degree that 
the names of Old and New World mili- 
tary heroes of the colored races— Tous- 
saint L'Ouverture, David Dumas, Chaka, 



Antonio Maceo, Peter Salem— were 
familiar enough to be freely used on 
any patriotic occasion. Battles and 
regiments were widely and fully com- 
memorated in books and pamphlets. 1 
Lithographs of Negro troops in action 
and of military heroes were common in 
Negro homes. The participation of 
Negroes in past wars was one of the 
richest veins of material that could be 
worked by the supporters of Negro rights 
and opportunities. 

Negroes, generally, were convinced of 
the unbroken record of loyalty and 
courage of their soldiers. They were 
certain of the benefits which participa- 
tion in each of America's wars had 
brought them. In 1918, when William 
E. B. DuBois, editor of The Crisis, 
official organ of the National Association 
for the Advancement of Colored People 
(NAACP) , sought to defend the thesis 
that winning the war must take preced- 
ence over fighting for the Negro's 
rights, he wrote: 

The Crisis says, first your Country, then 
your Rights! . . . Certain honest thinkers 
among us hesitate at that last sentence. 
They say it is all well to be idealistic, but 
is it not true that while we have fought 
our country's battles for one hundred fifty 
years, we have not gained our rights? No, 
we have gained them rapidly and effective- 
ly by our loyalty in time of trial. 

Five thousand Negroes fought in the 
Revolution; the result was the emancipa- 
tion of slaves in the North and abolition 
of the African slave trade. At least three 



1 George W. Williams, A History of the Negro 
Troops in the War of the Rebellion 1861-186$ (New 
York: Harper and Brothers, 1888); Theophilus G. 
Steward, The Colored Regulars in the U.S. Army 
(Philadelphia: A.M.E., 1904) . In addition, many of 
the regiments of the United States Colored Troops 
and state regiments of the Civil War had their own 
histories. 



AFTER WORLD WAR I 



5 



thousand Negro soldiers and sailors fought 
in the War of 18 iz; the result was the 
enfranchisement of the Negro in many 
Northern States and the beginning of a 
strong movement for general emancipa- 
tion. Two hundred thousand Negroes en- 
listed in the Civil War, and the result was 
the emancipation of four million slaves, 
and the enfranchisement of the black, man. 
Some ten thousand Negroes fought in the 
Spanish-American War, and in the twenty 
years ensuing since that war, despite many 
set backs, we have doubled or quadrupled 
our accumulated wealth. 2 

There was little doubt among Negroes 
during World War I that the record of 
the loyalty and courage of their soldiers 
would be preserved in France and that 
the peace would be followed by gains in 
status and opportunity similar to those 
listed by DuBois for wars past. War 
gave them a renewed opportunity to 
demonstrate their loyalty and patriotism. 
Their full support would bring its own 
reward. 

In World War I the bulk of the 404,- 
348 Negro troops (including 1,353 com- 
missioned officers, 9 field clerks, and 15 
Army nurses) were in the Services of 
Supply— in quartermaster, stevedore, and 
pioneer infantry units. Two infantry 
divisions, the Q2d and 93d, were formed 
and sent to France. The four Regular 
regiments were assigned to defensive 
positions in the continental United 
States and its island territories. 

The 93d Division was not a true di- 



' Editorials, "Our Special Grievances" and "The 
Reward," The Crisis, XVI (September, 1918), 217. 
The first line here quoted is the last line of "Our 
Special Grievances"; the remainder is the opening 
section of "The Reward." The two editorials were 
printed in sequence as answers to criticisms of a 
previous editorial, "Close Ranks," in which the mag- 
azine had urged its readers to "forget our special 
grievances and close out ranks" in the fight for 
democracy. 



vision but four separate infantry regi- 
ments without trains or artillery. These 
regiments, three of them National 
Guard, were assigned to the French, 
reorganized according to French tables, 
and used as integral parts of French 
divisions on the Western Front. They 
operated in Champagne, the Vosges, and 
in the Oise-Aisne offensive from the 
early summer of 1918 to the end of the 
war. The g2d Division, largely made 
up of draftees, spent fifty-one days in a 
"quiet" and two days in an active sector 
in France. One of its regiments, the 
368th Infantry, was used for liaison be- 
tween the French and American armies 
at the beginning of the Argonne offen- 
sive while the remainder of the division 
was in reserve. After five days the 
regiment, having experienced consider- 
able disorder and confusion, was with- 
drawn from the line. On 10 and 11 
November, the whole g2d Division was 
sent into action with the other three 
front-line divisions of the U.S. Second 
Army to attack the second Hindenburg 
Line. 

Both the 93d and 93d Divisions had 
Negro officers in junior grades but were 
otherwise generally commanded by 
white officers. The 93d's National 
Guard regiments also had Negro field 
grade officers, but with the exception of 
one regiment totally staffed with Negroes 
(except for its commander in the last 
months of the war) few remained as- 
signed throughout the war. Both di- 
visions experienced considerable shifting 
of Negro and white officers among their 
various units, with many Negro officers 
being eliminated. 

In assessments of Negro participation 
in World War I, the two infantry di- 
visions got the bulk of public and official 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



attention both during and after the war. 
Their employment and conduct pro- 
duced a fog of reports, rumors, and 
legends which grew and changed with 
the passage of time. The Negroes' view 
of their participation was considerably 
at variance with that of the Army's 
senior commanders and of white officers 
of Negro units. Both views influenced 
heavily the developing attitudes of the 
public and the Army toward the partici- 
pation of Negro troops in future emer- 
gencies. Both views had continuing 
importance, for many of the Army's 
senior commanders of World War II 
were the younger generals and field 
grade officers of World War I and many 
of the leading Negro protagonists and 
spokesmen of World War II were the 
Negro officers and enlisted men of World 
War I. Both had memories coming 
from direct experience or from the ac- 
counts of their contemporaries. The 
two wars were not separated by so long 
a span of years that one did not directly 
influence the other. 

Praise in the Press 

During World War I itself, few weeks 
passed without a detailed reporting of 
the bravery of American Negro soldiers 
in the nation's press. Nationally cir- 
culated magazines carried feature articles 
on Negro fighters abroad and the Negro 
journals quoted from the great metro- 
politan papers with approval. The 
United Press reported: 

American Negro troops proved their 
value as fighters in the line east of Verdun 
on June 12. . . . The Germans attempted 
a raid in that sector but were completely 
repulsed by the Negroes. The Bodies be- 
gan a terrific bombardment at one minute 



after midnight (throwing over between 
3,000 and 4,000 shells from guns ranging 
in size from 67 to 340 millimeters) . The 
bombardment was concentrated on small 
areas. Many of the shells made holes from 
ten to fifteen feet across. 

In the midst of this inferno the Negroes 
coolly stuck to their posts, operating ma- 
chine guns and automatic rifles and keep- 
ing up such a steady barrage that the 
German infantry failed to penetrate the 
American lines. The Americans mirac- 
ulously sustained only two wounded. 3 

Confirmation of the skill and courage 
of Negro soldiers was reported in other 
ways. The news of Pvts. Henry John- 
son and Needham Roberts, of the 
369th Infantry (New York National 
Guard), who together put to flight a Ger- 
man raiding party, killing or wounding 
twenty or more of the enemy, was car- 
ried in newspapers all over the country 
and became a subject for commendatory 
editorials. The Boston Post, under the 
heading No Color Line There, com- 
mented: "In the service of democracy 
there is no such distinction. General 
Pershing's late report places on the roll 
of honor the names of two soldiers of 
one of our colored regiments, Privates 
Johnson and Roberts. . . . This is the 
true ideal of service. No matter what 
the color of the skin, we all recognize 
it." And the Pittsburgh Chronicle Tele- 
gram said, quoting General Grant's Civil 
War comment: " 'The Colored troops 
fought nobly.' That was more than half 
a century ago. They 'fought nobly' in 
the plains, in the islands of the Pacific 
and the Atlantic, wherever they have 
been called upon to fight. . . . And 



3 Quoted in The Crisis, XVI (September, 1918) , 
ag8. The regiment referred to was the 371st Infantry, 
93d Division, assigned to the French 157th Division 
but operating with the French 68th Division. 



AFTER WORLD WAR 1 



now in France they are living up to the 
reputation they have won on other, far 
distant fields," 1 When their unit re- 
turned, Johnson and Roberts were the 
subjects of laudatory newspaper and 
wire service interviews read all over the 
country. 

Interest in the Negro units continued 
high, A correspondent of the New 
York Times wrote of one Negro unit: 

The regiment's inspiration to great deeds 
on the front was explained by a Negro 
lieutenant. 

"One of my men came to me several 
days ago," he said, "and asked me why I 
had joined the army, He reminded me 
that 1 'Was above draft age and he wanted 
me to tell him what I was fighting for. I 
told him I was fighting for what the flag 
meant to the Negroes in the United States, 
I told him 1 was fighting because I wanted 
other oppressed people to know the mean- 
ing of democracy and enjoy it. I told him 
that millions of Americans fought for four 
years for us Negroes to get it and now it 
was only right that we should fight for all 
we were worth to help other people get 
the same thing. , . , 

"I told him that now is our opportunity 
to prove what we can do. If we can't fight 
and die in this war just as bravely as white 
men, then we don't deserve an equality 
with white men, and after the war we 
better go back home and forget about it 
all. . . ," « 

When the French Government 
awarded the Croix de Guerre to three of 
the regiments of the 93d Division, to a 
company of the fourth regiment, and 

'Quoted in The Crisis, XVI {July. 1918), 130-31, 
along with excerpts from the Buffalo Evening News, 
Btooklyn Times, Boston Evening Transcript, New 
York Times, and the New York Tribune. See also 
The Literary Digest, LVIII (September 7, 1918), 48, 
50; Arthur W. Little, From Harlem to the Rhine 
(New York: Covici, Friedc. iojG). 191-101. 

■"The Looking Glass: Over There," The Crisis, 
XVI (Auguit, igtB) , 179. 



to the 1st Battalion of the 367th In- 
fantry, gad Division, each award was 
chronicled in the press. 'The Literary 
Digest summed up opinion on the award 
to the 369th Infantry: 

Exceptional tho the award of the coveted 
French War Cross may be, the deed* ol 
valor by which this negro regiment won it 
are less exceptional than typical of the 
way in which all our colored troops mea- 
sured up to the demands of the war. Tliis 
is the verdict of newspaper correspondents 
and of soldiers invalided home from the 
Western Front. Survivors of the fighting 
now arriving in New Vork have "nothing 
but praise for the colored troops," writes 
a reporter in the New York Evening Sun, 
"They proved their valor on countless oc- 
casions, and it was one of the common 
stories that Jerry feared the 'Smoked Yan- 
kees' more than any other troops he 
met." u 

As the troops continued to return 
home, articles assessing the role of Negro 
troops in the war began to appear. 
"Like the Senegalese forces of the French 
Army,'' Cui-rent History reported, "the 
black American troops held their own 
on European battlefields and stood the 
test of courage, endurance and aggres- 
siveness in moments of the greatest 
stress. They fought valiantly at 
Chateau-Thierry, Soissons, on the Vesle. 
in Champagne, in the Argonne, and in 
the finiil attacks in the Metz region," 7 
On the return of the 369th Infantry, 
first of the Negro regiments to parade 



■"Croix de Guerre and Rare Praise fox American 
NegTO Troops," The Literary Digest, LX (January 
18, 1919) . 55-56. The account continues with nar- 
ratives of individual soldier*. For other accounts 
and comments see "The Looking Glass: Lost Echoes," 
The Crisis, XVII (January, "919), 133. 

1 "The NegTO in the War: How French and Ameri- 
can Black Troops Performed Deeds of Valor on 
Many Battlefields." Current History, XI (December. 
•910. 54". 



8 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



up Fifth Avenue in massed formation, 
the New York Times wrote: "New 
York's Negro soldiers, bringing with 
them from France one of the bravest 
records achieved by any organization in 
the war, marched amid waving 
flags . . . ," and Nicholas Murray Butler, 
President of Columbia University, of- 
fered a resolution reading, "No Ameri- 
can soldiers saw harder or more constant 
fighting and none gave a better account 
of themselves. . . . When fighting was 
to be done, this regiment was there." 8 
Even the regimental band, "the band 
that introduced jazz to France," came 
in for high praise. It was considered 
one of the four best in the world, rank- 
ing with the British Grenadiers, the 
Garde Republicaine, and the Royal 
Italian Bands, one journal declared. 8 

There was praise, too, for the Negro 
service troops in France, especially for 
the stevedores, and for the high motiva- 
tion of Negro draftees. A reporter 
writing a series on the National Army 
camps told of a unit of 1,600 men at 
Camp Lee: 

Ten days after they arrived in camp 
with the first quota last fall, the call came 
for them to go immediately to France for 
special service. The call was sudden and 
unexpected. General Cronkhite [Maj. Gen. 
Adelbert Cronkhite] knew that the men 
had not expected to leave this country for 
several months. He thought that some of 
1,600 might have good reasons for not 
wanting to leave at once, so he called for 
volunteers from the 5,000 other colored 
troops who were in camp to fill whatever 
vacancies there might be in the oversea 
unit. Every one of the 5,000 volunteered 
for immediate oversea service. Then the 
unit was marched to a hall. The general 

8 New York Times, February 18, 1919. 
■ The Independent and Harpers' Weekly, XCVII 
(March 1, igig) , 286. 



said that there were volunteers to take the 
place of any who wished to remain behind. 
Only 20 per cent of the 1,600 availed them- 
selves of the opportunity to stay at home. 10 

Under the Surface 

While statements of praise presented 
a highly flattering picture of Negro 
troops in World War I, the public was 
not unaware that beneath the surface 
other rumors were running thick and 
fast. The 369th Infantry, "character- 
ized by some as 'possessing black skins, 
white souls and red blood,' " The Out- 
look commented, "ought to silence for 
all time the slanderous charge that Ne- 
groes are cowards and will not fight; 
and the service which these representa- 
tives of their race have rendered in the 
war to make the world safe for de- 
mocracy ought to make forever secure 
for that race in this their native land 
their right for life, liberty, and the pur- 
suit of happiness." 11 

Cowardice was not the only charge 
that worried Negroes at home. During 
the war other disturbing reports had 
spread through the larger cities: Negro 
troops were being abused by their white 
officers; systematic attempts were being 
made to "break" and demote Negro of- 
ficers; American white officers were 
attempting to import the worst features 
of color prejudice into France; Negro 
troops were being employed as "shock 
troops" in the most dangerous battle 
zones and as labor troops where the 
work was hardest. Other rumors of 

10 William S. McNutt, "Making Soldiers in Dixie," 
Collier's Weekly, LXI (April 27, 1918), 7. See also 
David L. Ferguson, "With This Black Man's Army," 
The Independent and Harpers' Weekly, XCVII 
(March 15, 1919) , 368, 385. 

"Honor to Whom Honor Is Due," The Outlook, 
CXXI (February «6, 1919) , 3?g. 



AFTER WORLD WAR I 

wholesale arrests of Negro officers and 
enlisted men made the rounds. Many 
of these allegations were dismissed as 
German propaganda, and all of them 
were formally denied by General John 
J. Pershing. 12 But the Houston riot of 
1917, involving troops of the 24th In- 
fantry, was no rumor. Committees 
were still working in 1919 to reverse 
the death sentence of the soldiers in- 
volved. 

As reports came back from Negro 
soldiers themselves, many of these ru- 
mors, especially those dealing with 
discriminatory treatment of Negro of- 
ficers and men, revived. During the 
course of the war, Negroes had ex- 
pressed two major grievances. One 
centered on retirement in June 1917 of 
Col. Charles Young, highest ranking 
Negro Regular Army officer, on the eve 
of what many Negroes had expected 
and hoped would be his appointment to 
a field command. 13 The other had to 
do with the formation and staffing of 
the g2d Division. 

It was widely believed that the g2d 
Division was established by Secretary 
of War Newton D. Baker and approved 
by President Woodrow Wilson over the 
objections of the Army's General Staff. 
Before it left the country for France, 
there were rumors that the division had 
not been given properly selected men 
and that there were deficiencies in the 
technical training of both officers and 
enlisted men. Deficiencies in literate 



"Emmett J. Scott, Scott's Official History of the 
American Negro in the World War (Chicago: Home- 
wood Press, 1919), pp. 344-53. 

u Ibid., pp. 64-65; "Army's Only Colored Co- 
lonel, 'Hero of Race,' Laid at Rest," Washington 
Evening Star, June 1, 1923, quoted in Abraham 
Chew, A Biography of Col. Charles Young (Wash- 
ington: R. L. Pendleton, 1923) , pp. 7, 11-12. 



9 




Colonel Young as a Captain 



and skilled men might have been 
remedied by transfers of men from 
other regiments, but, The Crisis in- 
formed its readers, permission to make 
these transfers had been denied. "Un- 
less this decision is reversed," the maga- 
zine predicted, "the Ninety-second Di- 
vision is bound to be a failure as a unit 
organization. Is it possible that persons 
in the War Department wish this divi- 
sion to be a failure?" the magazine 
asked. 14 After the war, Negroes linked 
the retirement of Young and the staffing 
of the 92d as part of the same official 
strategy. The Army General Staff 
"knew what Young could have made of 



14 Editorial, "The Negro and the War Depart- 
ment," The Crisis, XVI (May, 1918), 7-8. 



10 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



the 92d Division," The Crisis said after 
his death. 15 

Young's retirement dashed the high 
expectations of Negroes, and the colonel 
soon became a symbol of their disillu- 
sion. They pointed out that he was one 
of the few field grade officers with Per- 
shing in Mexico whom the general had 
recommended to command militia in 
the federal service. 16 Others subse- 
quently supported the claim that Young 
was retired "because the army did not 
want a black general" by quoting white 
officers who had said as much in public 
addresses. 17 

Colonel Young, over the years, at- 
tained the stature of a martyred hero. 
The Negro public became convinced 
that if Young, with his rank and West 
Point background, could be treated so, 
the lot of other Negro officers must have 
been difficult. Stories of wholesale in- 
efficiency on the part of Negro officers 
reached the press, but Negroes were 
frankly skeptical of their accuracy. As 
early as the spring of 1919, DuBois, who 
had gone to France immediately after 
the armistice in search of material for a 
projected history of the war, concluded: 
"So the word to acknowledge the Negro 
stevedore and the fighting black private 
has gone forth, but the American army 
is going to return to America deter- 
mined to disparage the black officer and 

15 The Crisis, XXVI (July, 1923), 106. See also 
William E. B. DuBois, The Gift of Black Folk (Bos- 
ton: Stratford Co., 1924), p. 131. 

30 Ltr, CG Punitive Expedition, U.S. Army, Colonia 
Dublan, Mexico, to TAG, 21 Aug 16, sub: Recom- 
mendation of Officers To Command Militia in 
Federal Service, quoted in The Crisis, XV (March, 
1918), 218. 

17 Addie W. Hunton and Kathryn M. Johnson, 
Two Colored Women with the American Expedition- 
ary Forces (Brooklyn: Brooklyn Eagle Press, igao) , 
P- 43- 



eliminate him from the army despite 
his record." 1N 

The Negroes' version of their part in 
World War I was that the root of all 
trouble in the Negro units lay in ani- 
mosities that developed between Ameri- 
can white and Negro troops, and 
especially in those originating with white 
American officers. American Army at- 
titudes, as contrasted with French public 
attitudes, were blamed for developing 
racial frictions. The American high 
command refused, according to this 
view, to regard Negro troops as full- 
fledged American soldiers, whereas the 
French, unexposed previously to large 
numbers of Americans, insisted upon 
treating Negroes as a part of the 1918 
Army of Liberation to be accepted in 
the same manner as any other American 
troops. Negroes remembered the g2d 
Division's Bulletin 35, issued at Camp 
Funston, Kansas, in March 1918. This 
bulletin urged the men of the division 
to avoid raising the color question, "No 
Matter How Legally Correct," and 
advised them that "the success of the 
Division with all that success implies is 
dependent upon the good will of the 
public. That public is nine-tenths 
white. White men made the Division, 
and they can break it just as easily if it 
becomes a trouble maker." The bul- 
letin was interpreted as symbolic of the 
Army's approach to racial matters. 
Mass meetings were called to demand 
the resignation of the division's com- 
mander. "At no time during his in- 
cumbency as the head of the Division 
was General Ballou [Maj. Gen. Charles 
C. Ballou] able to regain the confidence 

"William E. B. DuBois, "The Black Man in the 
Revolution of 1914-1918," The Croij, XVII (March, 



AFTER WORLD WAR I 



11 



of the colored masses, with whom he had 
been immensely popular prior to this 
episode," wrote Emmett J. Scott, as- 
sistant to Secretary o£ War Baker. 19 

In May 1919, DuBois published a 
series of war documents, including let- 
ters requesting the removal of Negro 
officers before they had been tested in 
battle, orders giving evidence of dis- 
criminatory treatment, and a copy of a 
letter written by the 92d Division's chief 
of staff to a United States senator pro- 
posing that never again should a divi- 
sion with Negro officers be organized. 20 
The publication of these documents re- 
newed again the fears of the Negro 
public. After the Post Office Depart- 
ment banned from the mails the issue 
of The Crisis in which the documents 
were printed, Negroes were certain that 
they were genuine and that the full facts 
of the war, as seen by Army officers, 
were destined to be hidden from the 
public. They were certain that if the 
facts were revealed they would show 
that: (1) Negro soldiers and officers per- 
formed well when given a chance to do 
so; (2) if they did not perform well it 
was because of faulty white leaders too 
preoccupied with their own prejudices 
to perform their military jobs well; and 
(3) Negro soldiers and officers, especially 
the latter, performed jobs better than 
they were credited with doing. Credit 
had to be withheld, for otherwise there 
could be no justification for denying 
full rights and privileges as citizens to 
Negroes who had won their position as 



19 Scott, History of the American Negro in the 
World War, p. 97. 

20 "Documents of the War," collected by William 
E. B. DuBois, The Crisis, XVIII (May, 1919) ; Scott, 
History of the American Negro in the World War, 
p. 438. 



Americans and as capable leaders on 
the field of battle. 

Shortly before DuBois' publication of 
the war documents, a service magazine 
expressed its opinion that perhaps mulat- 
toes might make capable officers, able 
to lead Negro troops, but that it was 
not satisfied that pure-blooded Negroes 
had developed sufficient capacity for edu- 
cation and mental discipline for leader- 
ship. 21 Colonel Young, in response, 
asked if this "surprising generalization of 
lack of leadership and the capacity of 
the Negro officer was derived by con- 
sultation of the records of the War De- 
partment, the press, both white and 
Negro, and the reports of impartial of- 
ficers. The black officer feels," he con- 
tinued, "that there was a prejudgment 
against him at the outset, and that nearly 
every move that has been made was for 
the purpose of bolstering up this pre- 
judgment and discrediting him in the 
eyes of the world and the men whom he 
was to lead and will lead in the future." 
Young proceeded to list French and 
American decorations won by Negro of- 
ficers in World War I and to cite ex- 
amples of pure-blooded Negro officers 
of the past, such as the Civil War's Maj. 
Martin Delany and Haiti's Toussaint 
L'Ouverture. 22 

Testimonials to the efficiency and 
good conduct of Negro troops were col- 
lected from other American and French 
officers and from the mayors of French 
towns. Court-martial figures were cited 
to disprove charges of misconduct to- 



21 Editorial, "The Negro Officer," National Service 
With the International Military Digest, V (March, 

Quoted from the New York Post in "The Look- 
ing Glass: Negro Officers," The Crisis, XVIII (June, 
1919) - 96. 



12 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Lieutenant Alexander and Fellow Officers of the 9th Cavalry. (Lieu- 
tenant Alexander is second from the left, top row.) 



ivard the French civilian population. 23 
The loyalty of Negro troops in the face 
of German propaganda focused upon 
the racial disadvantages of the Negro in 
America was described with approval. 24 
Counterexplanations of the performance 
of the 92d Division were advanced by 



23 Cf., "Rap," The Crisis, XVIII (May, 1919), iz- 
13; Charles H. Williams, Sidelights on Negro Soldiers 

(Boston: Brimmer, 1923) , pp. 74-76; Robert R. 
Moton, Finding A Way Out, An Autobiography 

(New York: Doubleday, Page, ig2o) , pp. 251-65. 

31 Scott, History of the American Negro in the 
World War, pp. 417-25; Second Report of the Pro- 
vost Marshal General to the Secretary of War on the 
Operations of the Selective Sen/ice System to 
December 20, 1918 (Washington, 1919) , pp. 195-96; 
Monroe Mason and Arthur Furr, The American 
Negro Soldier with the Red Hand of France (Boston: 
Comhill, igao) , pp. 115-17. 



Negro junior officers of the division. 
"The Ninety-Second Division was a 
tragic failure," two officers wrote. "It 
was a failure in organization. It was a 
failure in morale. It was a failure in 
accomplishment. . . . the Negro divi- 
sion was the object of special victimiza- 
tion, superimposed upon its sacrifice," 
they bitterly continued. 

The evidence advanced by the two 
officers for their interpretation of the 
division's "special victimization" was 
voluminous. The division trained in 
sections and was never assembled in one 
place until the last days of the war. It 
was given "the most ignorant and phys- 
ically disqualified Negroes in the United 
States . . . ," with 40 percent of its men 



AFTER WORLD WAR I 



13 



illiterate. Its white officers were unsym- 
pathetic to the Negro men and hostile 
to the Negro officers. They were all 
Southern "in accordance with tradition," 
some even introducing themselves to 
Negro troops with the announcement 
that they "had once suckled black mam- 
mies' breasts." The model officer held 
up to the Negroes by the commanding 
general was 2d Lt. John H. Alexander, 
who "knew how to stay in his place," 20 
The Houston riot of 1917 and the im- 
plied threats thereafter demoralized the 
officer trainees at Des Moines, Iowa. The 
white instructors at Des Moines, from 
the Regular units, expected the officer 
trainees to conduct themselves like the 
old Regular enlisted men. Commissions 
were not awarded on the basis of merit, 
but "they went to those regulars who 
had given satisfaction as privates and 
'noncoms.' Very few of those men had 
even a fair education. . . . They did 
their best as they saw it. But the unal- 
loyed truth is that commissions were 
often awarded to those who were more 
likely to fail than succeed. [One man] 
won a commission by singing plantation 
songs." Officers were assigned without 
regard to training; infantry officers were 
"indiscriminately" assigned to artillery, 
machine gun, and other units for which 
they had no special training. A gradu- 
ate of the Sheffield Scientific School was 
sent to the infantry while a senator's 
butler, "commissioned by graft," went 
to the heavy artillery. 

Training difficulties, the officers' ac- 
count went on, were slight when com- 



"'The World War I Camp Alexander at Hamp- 
ton Roads was named for Lieutenant Alexander, 
second Negro graduate of West Point. 



pared with the lowering of the division's 
morale in France. Among other things, 
it was charged that the men were kept 
out of schools; leaves were prohibited; 
rather than training, the men spent their 
time at police duties; staff officers were 
changed constantly; white officers were 
transferred into the division and out 
again as soon as they had obtained de- 
sired promotions; Negro officers were 
"terrorized" by wholesale arrests and 
transfers; officers, untrained in the duties 
of those arms, were assigned to artillery 
and the engineers, then blamed for hav- 
ing failed; the division went into its 
sectors without the proper equipment 
and into the short Argonne engagement 
without proper briefing, artillery sup- 
port, rifle grenades, wire cutters, or 
horses. The enthusiasm of the whole 
division was dampened by the restric- 
tions placed upon the contacts of the 
men with French civilians. "The sole 
charge of the division staff was to make 
the life of the Negro soldier unendura- 
ble." The old Regular Army enlisted 
men, now officers, assisted in breaking 
the morale of the division in an effort 
to "curry favor." There were a few 
officers whom the men respected; as 
for the rest, "the division had no trust 
in them." 

The two officers concluded that while 
the division was distinctly a failure as an 
organization it could not be considered 
a combat failure, for it "never had its 
mettle tried. It cannot be said that it 
either failed or succeeded in battle. 
The 368th Infantry was sent 'over the 
top' for the avowed purpose of demon- 
strating a failure. For their failure 
General Ballou should be court-mar- 
tialed." The division was "crippled" 
in training; no corps command wanted 



14 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



it. Yet it cost the United States four 
million dollars a month, they observed. 1 * 
Most writings on World War I by 
Negro authors had a more moderate ap- 
proach. That the Negro troops were 
not given proper equipment or clear 
orders, that a failure of command and 
the inexperience of troops were responsi- 
ble for their showing, that even so the 
Negro officers and men performed well 
enough to receive numerous medals and 
awards— these constituted the standard 
Negro version of World War I. That 
there was general, though varying, dis- 
crimination and unfairness toward Ne- 
gro troops was an accompanying 
theme. 27 

During the twenties and thirties 
Negroes became more and more con- 
vinced that, if left alone, the Army 
would contrive in any future war to 
limit the use of Negroes to labor units and 
to avoid, if possible, the use of Negro 

™ All quotations in this paragraph and the pre- 
ceding three are from letters, William N. Colson and 
A. B. Nutt, "The Failure of the Ninety Second 
Division," The Messenger, II (September, 1919), 
22-25. F° r later accounts by other participants 
see Howard H. Long, "The Negro Soldier in the 
Army of the United States," Journal of Negro Edu- 
cation, XII (1943) , 307-15; and Charles H. Houston, 
"Saving the World for Democracy," Pittsburgh 
Courier, July 20-October 12, 1940. 

27 Scott, History of the American Negro in the 
World War, pp. 433, 439; William E. B. DuBois, 
"The Black Man in the Revolution of 1914-1918," 
The Crisis, XVII (March, 1919) , 223; William E. B. 
DuBois, "An Essay Toward a History of the Black 
Man in the Great War," The Crisis, XVIII (June, 
1919) , 80-83; Colson and Nutt, article cited n. 26, 
above, p. 24; Hunton and Johnson, Two Colored 
Women with the AEF, p. 48; Long, article cited n. 
26, above, passim; Williams, Sidelights on Negro 
Soldiers, pp. 163-66; Carter G. Woodson, The Negro 
in Our History (Washington: The Associated Pub- 
lishers, 1922) , p. 520 (1931 edition) ; Sgt. William O. 
Ross and Cpl. Duke L. Slaughter, With the }$ist in 
France (Baltimore: Afro-American Co., 1919) ; 
Mason and Furr, The American Soldier with the 
Red Hand of France, passim. 



officers altogether. Some believed that 
many of their most promising young 
men in World War I had been assigned 
to pioneer infantry and stevedore regi- 
ments rather than to combat units. 
They felt that with a little more care 
and watchfulness the Army might have 
seen to it that combat units received a 
larger share of these men, with profit 
both to the men and to the units. They 
feared that in another war, instead of 
demonstrating progress over World War 
I, the employment of Negro troops might 
be on a more restricted basis than what 
they considered it to have been in World 
War I. They therefore placed more 
than ordinary emphasis on the impor- 
tance of combat service and of service 
under their own officers. In this view 
they were aided by the normal and 
natural tendency to consider warfare as 
the clash of armed divisions on the field 
of honor rather than as a gigantic eco- 
nomic and logistical struggle in which 
combat units are but a small part of 
the total war endeavor. Without heroes 
in the combat arms, without leaders of 
their own race, war from the Negro point 
of view would remain but an extension 
of the everyday chores which they were 
accustomed to perform anyway. 

The Negro public could not know 
the extent and nature of reports on 
Negro officers and troops contained in 
War Department files, but as memoirs 
of military leaders appeared after the 
war this public became convinced that 
more than a little had gone wrong in 
the use of Negro troops in World War I. 
With the accounts of senior officers 
added to, if not exactly agreeing with, 
those of their own troops, the picture 
of Negro participation in World War I 
became a clouded one. 



AFTER WORLD WAR I 



15 



In 1925, when Maj. Gen. Robert L. 
Bullard, commander of the American 
Second Army, published his memoirs, 
the controversy about Negro participa- 
tion in the war reopened once again. 28 
From his wartime diary, General Bul- 
lard quoted: "Poor Negroes! They are 
hopelessly inferior. I've been talking 
with them individually about their di- 
vision's success. That success is not 
troubling them. With everyone feeling 
and saying that they are worthless as 
soldiers, they are going on quite uncon- 
cernedly." And, of the final attack: 
"The poor Q2d Negroes [Diary, Novem- 
ber 1 1 th] wasted time and dawdled 
where they did attack, and at some 
places where they should have attacked, 
never budged at all." 20 As fighting 
troops, General Bullard concluded, Ne- 
groes were simply failures. He de- 
clared: "If you need combat soldiers, 
and especially if you need them in a 
hurry, don't put your time upon Ne- 
groes. The task of making soldiers of 
them and fighting with them, if there 
are any white people near, will be 
swamped in the race question. If racial 
uplift or racial equality is your purpose, 
that is another matter." 30 

As successive memoirs appeared in 
later years, uncertainty and recrimina- 
tory doubts about the entire career of 
Negro soldiers in World War I gained 
ascendancy over the optimistic reception 
of the first news from the front. 31 



ffl Maj. Gen. Robert L. Bullard, Personalities and 
Reminiscences of the War (New York; Doublcday 
Page, igaij) , especially Chapter XXX. 

28 Ibid., pp. 295-96. Brackets are in the original. 

*>Ibid., p. gg8. 

81 Representative later accounts are: General 
John J. Pershing, My Experiences in the World 
War (New York: F. A. Stokes Co., 1931), 2 vols.; 
Maj, Gen, Robert Alexander, Memories of the 



Negroes believed that an impartial ac- 
count would reverse these reports. They 
suspected that all the unfavorable 
narratives about Negro participation in 
World War I were the result of a 
planned attack aimed at discrediting 
their courage. This idea took root in the 
Negro mind and flowered there. Negroes 
had volunteered their best college- 
trained youths for officer training. They 
refused to believe that the generation 
to whom they looked for the future 
could have been responsible for the 
problems of Negro combat units. Hos- 
tile forces within the Army were to 
blame. "Nothing would have been more 
fatal to their plans than a successful 
Negro regiment officered by Negroes," 
DuBois wrote in 1925. "The Negro 
haters entrenched in the Army at Wash- 
ington began, therefore, a concerted 
campaign [of slander]. Bullard voices 
the re-vamped lie which was plotted in 
1918." 32 This notion, firmly believed 
in many Negro circles, conditioned the 
attitudes of young Negroes toward the 
Army for a full generation, for it was 
not allowed to die by Negroes nor was 
it killed off by any word of revision from 
the Army. 

An Army Postwar View 

The Army's judgment on the future 
of Negroes as a part of America's man- 



World War, igij~it)i8 (New York: Macmillan, 
1931); William A, Percy, Lanterns on the Levee 
(New York: A. A. Knopf, 1940). Accounts by of- 
ficers of Negro units arc: Capt. Chester D. Hey- 
wood, Negro Combat Troops in the World War: 
The Story of the )jist Infantry (Worcester, Mass.: 
Commonwealth Press, 19*8) ; Little, From Harlem 
to the Rhine. 

""Opinion of W. E. B. DuBois: Bullard," The 
Crisis, XXX (September, 19S5), si8-«g. 



16 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



power available for military use in time 
of war proceeded from quite different 
premises. Soon after World War 
I, Army organization and personnel 
agencies determined that a definite pol- 
icy on the employment of Negroes was 
needed if the best use was to be made 
of all available manpower in time of 
war. Such a policy was nonexistent in 
1917. With little access to the more 
technical products of social research, 
Army planners generally relied upon 
the testimony of World War I com- 
manders and traditional public atti- 
tudes in judging the capabilities of 
Negroes and in determining possibilities 
for the use of Negro manpower in time 
of war. Of the sources available to the 
Army, World War I testimony was per- 
haps the most important, though tradi- 
tional attitudes played their part. 

Most of the testimony from World 
War I was contained in personal docu- 
ments submitted to the War Department 
and the Army War College by com- 
manders of the 92d Division and, to a 
lesser extent, by commanders of the 
separate regiments of the 93d Division. 
These documents, remaining in type- 
script, were seldom available to more 
than a few officers. Through frequent 
repetition in successive studies and con- 
ferences, however, specific excerpts be- 
came relatively familiar. Other types of 
testimony appeared in commercially 
published memoirs and reminiscences. 
A third class, of increasing importance 
through the years, was the oral account 
—the personal reminiscence or anecdote 
—passed on in officers' clubs, schools, and 
at social gatherings. Only the first group 
is pertinent here, since it was upon this 
testimony, gathered within a short 
time after the close of the war, that both 



initial and subsequent attitudes affect- 
ing planning were primarily based. 

Most of the testimony came from 
regimental and higher commanders of 
units of the g2d Division, the only full- 
sized Negro combat division with the 
American Expeditionary Forces. This 
testimony was almost uniformly con- 
demnatory so far as the performance of 
Negro combat troops, and particularly 
of Negro officers, was concerned. In- 
fantry commanders were especially con- 
vinced that the training and perform- 
ance of their troops had been a failure. 
Commanders of supporting units, such 
as engineers and field artillery, reported 
relatively greater success, but they too 
felt that combat duties, especially under 
Negro officers, should not be assigned 
to Negro troops. Commanders of regi- 
ments of the 93d Division, whose ex- 
perience was with combat troops organ- 
ized in separate regiments fighting with 
French divisions, made similar com- 
ments on the inadvisability of employ- 
ing Negroes as combat troops, especially 
under Negro officers, although their 
reports showed that their own organiza- 
tions were relatively more successful 
than those of the g2d Division. No for- 
mal comments were received from the 
officers of the four Regular Negro regi- 
ments, for these units were not sent to 
France. The testimony was therefore 
confined to units of volunteers, draftees, 
and National Guardsmen. 33 

The commanding officer of the 368th 
Infantry, 92d Division, for example, felt 
that Negro soldiers were "absolutely de- 
pendent" upon the leadership of white 
officers. Since, he said, combat units 
may expect heavy officer casualties, "I 



** Letters and reports in AWC 127-3-84 (19*0). 



AFTER WORLD WAR I 



17 



consider the Negro should not be used as 
a combat soldier." The commanders of 
the 371st and ;j72d Infantry, 93d Divi- 
sion, 34 agreed, saying that in a future 
war Negroes should be used principally 
in labor organizations. The 372d's com- 
mander added that if they had to be 
used in combat organizations, "then 
combatant officers should be all white— 
also the non-commissioned officers." 
The commander of the 365th Infantry, 
93d Division, along with others, added 
a further provision, "a period of train- 
ing at least twice as long as is necessary 
in the training of white troops— other- 
wise they should be used as pioneer or 
labor troops." Frequently, comments 
included a statement such as that of the 
commander of the 367th Infantry, g2d 
Division: "As fighting troops, the negro 
must be rated as second class material, 
this due primarily to his inferior intelli- 
gence and lack of mental and moral 
qualities." Others, like the command- 
ing general of the g2d Division, recom- 
mended that no Negro units larger than 
a regiment be formed in the future, 35 
and some, including the division's chief 
of staff, felt that a separate extra Negro 
regiment might be added to every divi- 
sion, "actually making it a service regi- 
ment." 

The emphasis on the necessity for 
white leadership arose from the convic- 
tion, almost universally held, that, with 



"The 371st was a Southern draft regiment with 
all while officers; the 372c! was a National Guard 
regiment from New England, Ohio, Maryland, and 
the District of Columbia in which while officers 
replaced most ol the Negro officers. 

" This recommendation was bulwarked by a 
comparison of the performance of the separate 
regiments of the 93d with those of the gad Di- 
vision. 



few exceptions, the Negro officer was a 
failure in World War I. The com- 
manding general of the g2d Division's 
183d Brigade, for one, said, "Negro of- 
ficers did not take proper care of their 
men. They not only lacked initiative 
but lacked standing with their own 
men." In the judgment of the com- 
mander of the 184th Brigade, "The Ne- 
gro as an officer is a failure, and this 
applies to all classes of Negro officers, 
whether from the Regular Army or from 
the Officers' Training Camp." The di- 
vision's chief of staff did not remember 
"in thirteen months service a single 
report coming from a Negro officer that 
ever gave sufficient information to base 
any plan thereon and practically every 
report had to be checked up by some 
white officer." 

The reported experience of those 
units which replaced their Negro officers 
with white officers apparently proved the 
point fully. "After the negro lieuten- 
ants of the regiment were replaced by 
white the improvement was such that 
its efficiency was but little less than that 
of the average white engineer regiment," 
the commander of the 317th F.ngineers, 
g2d Division, reported. The com- 
mander of the 372d concluded that: 
"The replacement of the combatant col- 
ored officers of the 37 2d Infantry by 
white officers had, for its effect, a better 
state of morale and discipline through- 
out the regiment; better instruction and 
better tactical control. ... Its work in 
sector warfare there under white offi- 
cers was far more satisfactory than it had 
been two months previous under col- 
ored officers." Commanders of other 
regiments in which white officers re- 
placed Negroes expressed similar 
opinions. 



18 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



It was clear that most commanders of 
Negro combat troops in World War I 
had little to recommend for the employ- 
ment of Negro troops in a future war 
except labor duties under white super- 
vision. Yet many admitted mitigating 
circumstances in judging the perform- 
ance of the combat units and some 
indicated that the bare recorded facts of 
combat did not tell the whole story. 
General Ballou, the commander of the 
gad Division, wrote: 

The Secretary of War gave personal at- 
tention to the selection of the white officers 
of the higher grades, and evidently in- 
tended to give the Division the advantage 
of good white officers. This policy was not 
continued by the War Department . . . the 
92d . . . was made the dumping ground for 
discards, both white and black. Some of 
the latter were officers who had been elimi- 
nated as inefficient, from the so-called 93d 
Division. . . . 

In the last battle of the war the Division 
did some very aggressive work, so far as 
the companies were concerned, and the 
same could have been done in the Argonne 
had there not been too much eagerness to 
get the negroes out while their credit was 
bad, as many preferred it should remain. 

The Colonel of one regiment came to 
me, at the request of his officers, to beg me 
to send them to the front, and pledging 
me to a man that they would go to the 
rear only by my order, or on a stretcher. 
Those men would have been dangerous at 
that time, and ought not to have been 
humiliated by being sent to the rear. 



To officer a Division in which the best 
possible leadership was required, only one- 
half as many students were summoned to 
the training camp as were summoned from 
which to select the officers of a white Di- 
vision. [College degrees were required for 
admission to the white camp but] only 
high school educations were required for 
. . . the colored . . . and in many cases 
these high school educations would have 



been a disgrace to any grammar school. 

For the parts of a machine requiring the 
finest steel, pot metal was provided. a6 

Field grade officers commented on train- 
ing and personnel problems: 

It was my experience at Camp Meade 
that there was a tendency to use the negro 
for special fatigue in road building or other 
improvements. Where a single negro unit 
is placed in a white divisional camp these 
things have to be guarded against. . , . 
While I was promoted out of the Q2d Di- 
vision a few days after its arrival in France, 
it was my opinion that its being scattered 
in different camps in the U.S. had ma- 
terially effected the training and formation 
of the Divisional Staff. The division could 
not expect to have the same team play as 
one which had trained together at one 
camp. 37 



. . . in my opinion the negro race did not 
take advantage of the opportunity offered 
them and send their leaders into the war 
as officers. Many of the negro officers had 
been barbers, waiters and had earned a 
living in similar capacities before the war. 
There were negroes with whom I came into 
contact, civilians, who were men of ability 
but the occasions were rare. 38 

No matter what mitigating circum- 
stances were advanced, the general con- 
clusion was that Negro troops could not 
be employed satisfactorily in combat 
units unless such careful selection, inten- 
sified training, and superior leadership 
as had not been forthcoming in World 
War I could be provided. Since such 
selection and such leadership, whether 
white or Negro, would be limited, the 

30 Excerpts from Ltr, Col Charles C. Ballou to 
Asst Cornell Gen Staff College, 14 Mar 30, AWC 
127-19. 

"Ltr, Col William P. Jackson, IGD, to Asst 
Comdt Gen Staff College, 28 Mar 20, AWC 127-16. 

38 Ltr, Maj Walter E. Prosser (CO 350th FA) to 
Asst Comdt Gen Staff College, 14 Apr so, AWC 
127-10. 



AFTER WORLD WAR I 



19 



bulk of Negro troops should be used in 
service units. Of combat units, those of 
supporting types could best use Negroes, 
though a proportion would have to be 
placed in front-line organizations. 
These should be confined to small units 
if a satisfactory method of employing 
them in conjunction with larger white 
units could be achieved. 

The full testimony and experiences 
of World War I commanders neverthe- 
less left considerable room for doubt as 
to the complete validity of any but the 
most general conclusions, for even those 
commanders who reported least success 
indicated that in any given unit careful 
planning and execution of a different 
order from what had been common in 
World War I might have produced dif- 
ferent results. Reports from the more 
successful units suggested that the pic- 
ture was not universally bleak. Officers 
of certain of the infantry units, while 
recommending changes in organization 
and employment, did not always agree 
with the general conclusion that there 
were inherent difficulties barring the 
way to the formation of successful Negro 
combat units. The white commander 
of the only one of the eight Negro infan- 
try regiments in France to continue with 
all Negro officers, except himself, wrote, 
"I found the men of the 370th Infantry 
generally amenable to discipline, exceed- 
ingly uncomplaining under hardship, 
and the majority willing and ready to 
follow an officer anywhere and at any 
time, ... Of course there was a large 
amount of illiteracy, which complicated 
the non-commissioned officer problem." 
Some of the Negro officers, he reported, 
were good, but the majority showed a 
"lack of sense of responsibility and of 
initiative." That the regiment func- 



tioned as well as it did, he added, was 
"largely due to the influence of a few 
good men, [officers who] were loyal, 
hardworking and reliable men. . . ." 89 
He felt that a large error had been 
made in training Negro officers in sepa- 
rate classes: 

. . . men of the two races should be com- 
pared and if the Negro suffers from the 
comparison, he should not be commis- 
sioned. As I understand the question, what 
the progressive Negro desires today is the 
removal of discrimination against him; that 
this can be accomplished in a military 
sense I believe to be largely possible, but 
not if men of the two races are segregated. 

In saying the foregoing, I appreciate the 
tremendous force of the prejudice against 
association between negroes and whites, 
but my experience has made me believe 
that the better element among the negroes 
desires the removal of the restriction rather 
than the association itself. 40 

The commanding officer of the 371st 
Infantry, the only all-draft Negro regi- 
ment staffed completely with white of- 
ficers from the beginning, felt that with 
white leadership "a small number" of 
Negro infantry divisions could be ade- 
quately trained and used by the army 
"as shock divisions ... to equalize the 
losses among the races." He would not 
deny commissions to Negroes, for he be- 
lieved that incentives to enlisted men 
were essential, but he would confine the 
use of Negro officers to noncombat units 
and would insist on "absolute equality 
of requirements between negroes and 
white candidates for promotion." Ini- 
tiative, he declared, while rarer among 
Negroes than among whites, was "not 
wholly lacking," and he then cited ex- 



88 1,tr, Maj Thomas A. Roberts to Asst Comdt 
Gen Staff College, 5 Apr go, AWC 1*7-17. 
"Ibid. 



20 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



amples from his regiment to prove his 
point. The examples included a com- 
pany clerk who went forward to the 
battlefield from the rear echelon when 
he learned that his company had lost all 
its officers, and a linesman who, after 
being seriously wounded, worked several 
more hours to keep the telephone lines 
open, until he dropped from exertion 
and loss of blood. 41 

The conviction that the Army, instead 
of limiting the use of Negro combat 
troops, should attempt to increase their 
efficiency was strongly expressed in some 
of the reports. To heighten their self- 
identification as a vital part of the Army 
team some observers recommended that 
smaller Negro units be attached to or 
integrated into larger white units. One 
commander wrote: 

Personally I think it is a waste of time 
to consider whether we shall have colored 
troops and colored officers. It is quite pos- 
sible that in the future as in the past 
circumstances will arise to compel us to 
have both. 

I think our past policy of massing them 
by themselves has not been wise. I believe 
under conditions as they are this policy 



a Ltr, Col Perry L. Miles to Asst Comdt Gen 
Staff College, undated but received 13 May 21, 
AWC 137-88. 



should be modified by doing away with the 
colored regiments and putting a colored 
unit in every regiment, said unit not to be 
smaller than a company and not larger 
than a battalion. I believe in having 
colored officers for these colored units to 
the extent that suitable colored personnel 
is available under the conditions for quali- 
fying for the position of an Army officer. 42 

Although other commentators had 
similar reactions, the adverse testimony 
of most officers of the~Q2d and 93d Divi- 
sions was so preponderant that it was 
difficult for Army General Staff officers 
to come to any conclusion other than 
the one widely held among them in the 
period between wars: Negro combat 
troops in World War I failed to come up 
to Army standards. If such a failure 
was to be prevented in a future war, 
plans that took into account the testi- 
mony of World War I commanders and 
avoided the organizational errors of 
World War I had to be laid to determine 
the best and most efficient means of em- 
ploying Negro troops in a time of na- 
tional emergency. 



12 Ltr, Col Vernon A. Caldwell to Asst Comdt 
Gen Staff College, 14 Mar 20, AWC 127-15. Colonel 
Caldwell had commanded a Negro company in 
Cuba and in the Philippines in the War with 
Spain. For a time, he commanded the 365th In- 
fantry in France. 



CHAPTER II 



Peacetime Practices and Plans 



During the years of peace, the War 
Department and its General Staff pro- 
ceeded, as was their duty, to develop 
plans for the mobilization of manpower 
in the event of war. Plans for the use 
of Negroes explored various organiza- 
tional possibilities. Some of these were 
derived from the recommendations of 
World War I commanders. Others 
came from the study of historical and 
sociological treatises. Still others were 
the products of a priori reasoning. At 
times, the plans were ahead of the con- 
temporary thinking of comparable 
civilian institutions. Religious denomi- 
nations, public school systems, and indus- 
trial plants, like the Army, had to deal 
with problems of racial adjustment on 
a broad scale. Many of these, again 
like the Army, had developed separate 
methods and subinstitutions for their 
relations with Negroes. At other times, 
Army plans fell behind developing con- 
temporary practices. But they always 
included social and political considera- 
tions along with purely military prob- 
lems. 

The major problem, generally recog- 
nized in planning for the mobilization 
of Negro troops, was how best to build 
efficient military units from a portion of 
the population which, in general, had 
had little experience in the skills and 
responsibilities that go with efficient mil- 
itary administration and leadership and 



which, under existing peacetime condi- 
tions, had little opportunity to develop 
them. Neither in civilian economic and 
political life nor in military pursuits had 
Negroes generally attained positions of 
the type that required the development 
of technical, managerial, and leadership 
skills. While the lack of opportunities 
for the development of demonstrable 
native capabilities was certainly a factor 
in the low status of Negroes in the gen- 
eral American society, the lack of devel- 
opment itself, no matter what the cause, 
could not be overlooked if the Army 
was seriously to attempt to create effi- 
cient Negro military units on a large 
scale. 

Presumably, it could build such units 
from the available material by removing 
the burden of military responsibilities 
and leadership from the Negroes them- 
selves and passing it on to white officers 
and possibly to white noncommissioned 
officers. This method had been widely 
used in the organization of the United 
States Colored Troops in the Civil War 
and in Negro units in World War I. 
A second method would be so to reduce 
the numbers of Negroes called for mili- 
tary service that the importance of the 
question would diminish to a near-van- 
ishing point. A third method would be 
to abandon altogether the attempt to 
build Negro units and place Negroes in 
units along with white soldiers. 



22 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



The first procedure would be ideal 
from the point of view of providing units 
with more experienced leadership, but 
almost every commentator was quick to 
see that, aside from the possibility that 
through the subtle two-way interplay of 
racial prejudices Negro units with all- 
white leaders might be no more efficient 
than in the past, this plan would be at- 
tacked at once because of its implicit 
denial of opportunities and incentives 
to all Negroes, whether qualified or not. 
Both of the other approaches, it was felt, 
would be political and social dynamite. 
As for reducing the number of Negroes 
to such a point that the problem of how 
to employ them would become a small 
one, this might work in peacetime, but 
in time of war, political and social pres- 
sures could be counted upon to create 
demands from both Negroes and whites 
for increased rather than diminished 
use of Negroes in the military services. 
If planned units for Negroes did not 
exist, attempts to place them in existing 
white units might be made. The ma- 
jority of Army officers and War Depart- 
ment officials charged with determining 
policy on the employment of Negro 
troops did not believe that, within the 
existing social structure, there was any 
possibility of creating units racially 
mixed on an individual basis. It 
might be customary for Negroes and 
whites to work together in most parts of 
the country, but it was not customary 
for them to live and play together. 
Nor was the working relationship gen- 
erally comparable to that which is re- 
quired of men operating in a military 
team. 

Where Negroes and whites worked to- 
gether in civilian life, Negroes were gen- 
erally in subordinate positions or in 



types of jobs traditionally reserved for 
them. They were the unskilled workers 
and helpers where whites were the 
skilled workers and foremen; they were 
the porters and janitors and watchmen 
in office buildings where whites were 
the accountants and salesmen and man- 
agers; they were the domestics and heavy 
laborers for white employers. The 
skilled and professional workers, the 
tradesmen and craftsmen among them, 
though engaged in a broader variety of 
pursuits than was generally realized, 
were few in comparison with the vast 
majority of unskilled workers who held 
neither responsible nor leadership posi- 
tions in civilian life. Working relations 
between Negroes and whites in the same 
plant were seldom characterized by the 
upward and downward flow of both au- 
thority and confidence so essential to 
esprit in a military unit. Army plan- 
ners took note that the United States 
Navy no longer employed Negroes in 
peacetime at all, except as mess boys, 
because of the problem of "mixing the 
races" aboard ship. Even the Navy's 
traditional Negro mess boys were giving 
way to Filipinos, Chamorros, and Japa- 
nese. Abandoning the separate Negro 
units was not seriously considered by the 
Army at all. 

The Army recognized that large num- 
bers of Negro troops would have to be 
employed in another war. They would 
probably have to be employed in sepa- 
rate Negro units which would fall heir 
to all the difficulties experienced in 
World War I, where separate Negro 
units with racially mixed leadership, 
especially in combat units, were the rule. 
The question was how to minimize these 
difficulties while still maintaining sep- 
arate Negro organizations. 



PEACETIME PRACTICES AND PLANS 



23 



"There Is Nol. Enough Army 
to Go Around" 

In its planning for the future the 
Army, as already noted, had a core of 
Negro Regulars to consider. Their 
presence affected both military plans and 
the reaction of the Negro public to the 
Army as an institution. 

The four Negro regiments, the 9th 
and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th 
Infantry, were established by legislation 
enacted in 1866 and 1869. The first of 
these acts, under which the Army was 
reorganized, increased the Regular 
Army to ten cavalry regiments and forty- 
five infantry regiments. Of the four 
new cavalry regiments two were to have 
Negro enlisted personnel, and of the 
thirty-five new infantry regiments four 
were to be Negro. The act of 1869 
ordered the reduction of the infantry 
regiments to twenty-five as rapidly as a 
consolidation of the existing regiments 
could be made. Under the terms of 
this act, two of the Negro regiments, the 
38th and 41st, were consolidated as the 
24th Infantry and the other two, the 
39th and 40th, became the 25th Infan- 
try. 1 The Revised Statutes of 1878, 
Sections 1104 and 1108, provided that 
the enlisted men of two cavalry regi- 
ments and two infantry regiments should 
be Negroes. There was no express re- 
peal of these sections of the Revised 
Statutes in any later legislation concern- 
ing the Regular Army. 

Therefore, although the National De- 
fense Act of 1920, under which the 
peacetime Army was organized, did not 
require the continued existence of any 



'WDGO 17, 15 March 1869. The original 34th 
Infantry became a part of the 11th Infantry; the 
original 25th became a part of the 18th Infantry. 



of the Regular regiments— it spoke of 
units and not of regiments— it was gen- 
erally considered within the Army and 
by the Negro public that the Negro reg- 
iments were required by law. During 
the period of successive reductions of 
the size of the Army after World War I, 
the Judge Advocate General advised that 
since repeals by implication were not 
favored and that since earlier opinions 
had held that to alter the composition 
of an arm or service by increasing or 
diminishing the number of Negro organ- 
izations would be an exercise of legisla- 
tive power by the Executive, Negro units 
would have to be retained. 2 

The question was of importance in 
1922 for two reasons. In the reduction 
of the size of the Army many white regi- 
ments had been placed in an inactive 
status. With prospects of further reduc- 
tions in the total Army strength, other 
regiments might be made inactive. "It 
seems to me an absurdity," the Deputy 
Chief of Staff wrote to the Judge Advo- 
cate General, "that with the reduction 
of the Army the War Department should 
be obliged to maintain these four regi- 
ments of colored soldiers. Carried to 
the logical extreme, if the Army were re- 
duced to four regiments, it would nec- 
essarily have to be an exclusively colored 
army." 3 The second reason was that 
by law the 9th Cavalry, then in the Phil- 
ippines, was due to return 400 men to 
the United States. There had to be an 



-In October 1904 and again in Apiil 1907, the 
question of the enlistment of Negroes in the Coast 
Artillery had been raised and the Judge Advocate 
General bad ruled that this question could only 
be determined by legislative and not by adminis- 
trative action. Memo, JAG for DCofS, 15 Mar 22, 
AG 322.97 (3-1-22) (1). 

3 Memo, DCofS for JAG, 1 Mar 22, AG 322.97 

(3-1-22) . 



24 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



organization on the mainland which 
could receive these men. The prospect 
for the 10th Cavalry was that it would 
become a recruit depot for the shifting 
of men to and from the overseas regi- 
ment. The need to retain these two 
regiments if their current assignments 
were continued seemed strong. At the 
same time, further reduction of the 
Army appeared to make it possible that 
the sjd Division might have to be broken 
up, making two of its regiments inactive, 
and that the 24th and 25th Infantry 
might have to be included in the 2d 
Division. This would be "contrary to 
the policy heretofore held of not brigad- 
ing the two colors together." * 

While the Judge Advocate General 
did not believe that any of the four Ne- 
gro regiments could be inactivated ex- 
cept by legislative action, he did suggest 
two practical solutions: portions of them 
might be made inactive, as had been 
done in 1890 when two companies of 
each infantry regiment and two troops 
of each cavalry regiment, white and Ne- 
gro, were skeletonized to effect an over- 
all strength reduction; 5 or the incorpo- 
ration of existing Negro nonregimental 
detachments into the infantry and cav- 
alry regiments might achieve an over-all 



1 Memo, DCofS for JAG, 4 Mar 22, AG 389.97 
(3-4-22) . In 1919 it had been announced that the 
184th Brigade, to contain the 24th and 25th In- 
fantry, would be attached to the 7th Division, with 
the 9th Cavalry also assigned to this division and 
the 10th Cavalry assigned to the 36th Division. 
This was an interim organization, when twenty 
infantry divisions, each with one cavalry regiment 
assigned, and one cavalry division, were planned. 
Army and Navy Journal, (April 5, 1919); National 
Service with the International Military Digest 
(September, 1919) , pp. 186-88. 

E WDGO 72, 21 July 1890; WDGO 79, 25 July 
1890. 



reduction of Negro strength though the 
regiments remained. 6 

Further reduction of the Negro cav- 
alry regiments was not going to be an 
easy matter. Under a general reorgani- 
zation and reduction of the cavalry in 
1921, six troops of the 9th and seven of 
the 10 th Cavalry had already been or- 
dered demobilized. 7 Enlistments of 
Negroes, other than those who had been 
in the Army before April 1917, had 
ceased in 191 9. 8 A further general re- 
duction of the Army was ordered by an 
act of 30 June 1922. The 24th Infan- 
try's authorized strength was thus re- 
duced, and the regiment had to absorb 
the Colored Detachment at Fort Ben- 
ning, Georgia, acquiring a surplus of 
Negro infantrymen that could not be 
absorbed elsewhere. The surplus was 
prorated among all infantry regiments, 
with each white regiment's actual 
strength reduced by a proportionate 
share of the 24th's surplus. This re- 
duction in actual strength amounted to 
thirty men per regiment. Each full- 
strength white regiment was to cease 
recruiting until its strength reached its 
authorized strength less thirty. 9 A tem- 
porary cessation of new enlistments in 
the Negro regiments was ordered. 10 

The Negro regiments were filled to 
capacity— and remained so. Re-enlist- 
ments on the day following discharge, 



8 Memo, JAG for DCofS, 15 Mar 22, AG 322.97 

(3-1-22) (l). 

7 Ltr, TAG to CG's All Corps Areas, 20 Aug 21, 
AG 320.2 (8-1 1-21) . 

8 WD Cir 271, 1919; WD Cir 355, 1919; WD Cir 
365, 1919; WD Cir 392, 1919. 

* Ltr, Actg TAG to CG's All Corps Areas, 6 Jul 
22, AG 322.212 (7-1-22) Enlisted RA. The act of 
30 June 1922 reduced the Army to 125,000 enlisted 
men. Of these, 49,107 were allotted to the infantry. 

10 Ltr, Actg TAG to CG's All Corps Areas, 3 Jul 
22, AG 342.1 {6-30-22) RA Rtg No. ii. 



PEACETIME PRACTICES AND PLANS 



25 



or within twenty days £or noncommis- 
sioned officers, were regularly high. 
The Negro units lost few men through 
normal discharges. Even before World 
War I these regiments had had a high 
percentage of career soldiers; during the 
period of reductions nearly all men of 
these regiments were professional sol- 
diers. Vacancies and promotions be- 
came rarities in most Negro units. 

In 1931 the Army found it necessary 
to reduce further the strength of the 
Negro units. An expansion of Air 
Corps units had been authorized by Con- 
gress in 1926. This expansion was to 
take place in five yearly increments. 
The men for the Air Corps units were 
to come from allotments to units of other 
branches. Negro ground units were not 
required to contribute to the first four 
increments, but in the fifth, or 1931 in- 
crement, they took their share of the 
reductions all at once. 11 The reductions 
were coupled with the absorption of 
scattered detachments by the regiments 
and with changes in locations which split 
the 10th Cavalry and the 25th Infantry 
among several stations. 

The increase of Air Corps units out of 
the Negro allotments meant more than 
the shift of men from one arm to an- 
other. It meant a general reduction in 
the strength of Negroes in the Army. 
Unlike the white units the Negro units 
had no new ^ compensatory vacancies 
available in the Air Corps, since the Air 
Corps did not accept Negro enlist- 



11 Personal Ltr, Maj Gen Douglas MacArthur, 
CofS, to Maj Gen Edwin B. Winans, CG Eighth 
Corps Area, 17 Aug 31; Ltr, Frederick H. Payne, 
Actg SW, to Walter White, Secy NAACP, 11 Aug 
31. Both in AG 320.8 (6-17-31) (1) sec. I. See 
also letters in AG 6so (4-23-41) (1) sec. 2. 



ments. 12 The Negro units once more 
found themselves overstrength both in 
numbers and in ratings. The War De- 
partment had to order a temporary ces- 
sation of enlistments, re-enlistments, and 
promotions for Negroes. Because ex- 
cess men could be absorbed only by 
transfer among the few Negro units, 
the cessation of enlistments and promo- 
tions, planned to last not more than six 
to twelve months, persisted until 1934 
in an acute form. 13 Further, the 
strength of the Army was reduced at a 
time when, because of economic depres- 
sion, the demand by Negroes for enlist- 
ment was higher than usual. Of the 
five years available for the Air Corps' 
increase, none, so far as relations with 
the Negro public went, was worse than 

193 1 - 

Although the original War Depart- 
ment letter of instructions plainly indi- 
cated that the orders suspending recruit- 
ing for Negro units were "Not for Press 
Release," 14 it was difficult to keep the 
news quiet. Before the month was out, 
the NAACP had received copies of the 
orders from "two sources" and had writ- 
ten President Herbert C. Hoover to in- 
quire about their authenticity. "If we 
interpret these facts correctly," the 
NAACP said, "it appears . . . that it is 
the intention of the War Department to 
abolish the so-called colored regi- 
ments." 15 

lz The 65th Infantry (Puerto Rican) was simi- 
larly affected. 

u Ltr, TAG to CG's, 2 Jul 31, AG 320.2 (6-17- 
31) Enlisted, based on Memo, G-3 for TAG, 17 
Jun 31, AG 320.2 (6-17-31); Ltr, TAG to CG's 
Corps Areas, 25 Jun 34, AG 320.2 (6-25-34) En- 
listed. 

" Marginal note, signed C.C., on Ltr, TAG to 
CG's, 2 Jul 31, cited in note 13, above. 

10 Ltr, Walter White to President Hoover, 29 Jul 
31, AG 320.2 (6-17-31) (1) sec. 1. 



26 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



The fact that the directive was to re- 
ceive no publicity added a note of deep 
and dark mystery. Within a few weeks 
the Negro press was carrying articles 
suggesting that the Negro regiments 
were being gradually disbanded. 
American Legion posts and civic groups 
were writing their congressmen to obtain 
definite reports on what the future of 
Negro troops was to be. 16 The War 
Department answered certain of the in- 
quiries, including those from the White 
House, by saying: 

The War Department does not distin- 
guish between its soldiers and treats white 
and black absolutely alike. Apparent effort 
is now being made to establish the principle 
that the negro soldier shall receive pref- 
erential treatment over the white soldier. 
The War Department wishes emphatically 
again to go on record that it believes it 
would be most harmful to establish any 
differential treatment between soldiers of 
the American Army because of difference 
of race or color. 17 

This justification, based on the equity 
of reductions in Negro units similar to 
previous ones in white units and on the 
fact that over 40 percent of the white 
units were split among several stations, 
enabled the NAACP to prepare a re- 
joinder in which it agreed fully with the 
principle as stated. "It is our most 
earnest desire," Walter F. White, the 
NAACP secretary, wrote, "that Negro 
and white soldiers receive the same treat- 
ment and the same consideration, with 
no preference for either white or black 
units." On the surface, he said, the pres- 



14 AG 320.2 (6-17-31) (1) sec. 1, Protests; AG 
6ao (4-23-31) (1) sec. 2. 

"Ltr, Gen MacArthur to Walter H. Newton, 
Secy to President, 3 Sep 31; Ltr, Actg SW Payne to 
Newton, 18 Sep 31. Both in AG 620 (4-23-31) sec. 
2. 



ent plan seemed fair and impartial, but 
in actual operation it created the very 
preferential treatment which the War 
Department had disavowed: 

It is the conception of this Association 
that non-preferential treatment for white 
and colored soldiers, if adhered to by the 
War Department, would result in the 
Tenth Cavalry being kept together at one 
post; in Negroes being enlisted in the Air 
Corps and every other -service of the Army; 
in full armament equipment being dis- 
tributed to Negro combat units, that is, 
trench mortars, howitzers, machine guns, 
etc; in full staffs of colored noncommis- 
sioned officers in existing colored units; in 
free and unobstructed admission of Negro 
cadets to the United States Military Acad- 
emy at West Point; and eventually in 
colored officers being promoted and as- 
signed to commands on the basis of their 
ability and not their color. 

The letter was not answered, but Maj. 
Gen. George Van Horn Moseley, Dep- 
uty Chief of Staff, noted: "This is a very 
good letter. General MacArthur will 
probably be interested in reading it 
when he returns." 18 

The dissatisfaction of Negroes contin- 
ued. President Robert R. Moton, suc- 
cessor to Booker T. Washington at 
Tuskegee Institute, made impassioned 
pleas to President Hoover for the pres- 
ervation of the units, pointing out that, 
from his own observations at nearby 
Fort Benning, the fate of the 24th In- 
fantry had been a slow withering away. 
Moton wrote: 

The original declaration was that these 
Negro troops from the 24th Infantry were 
transferred to Fort Benning as a special 
training unit. Whatever the original inten- 
tion, this program has been entirely 



16 Ltr, Walter White to Gen MacArthur, 10 Sep 
31, AG 620 (4-23-31) («) sec. 2, and attached 
note. 



PEACETIME PRACTICES AND PLANS 



27 



abandoned. Negro troops at Fort Benning 
are without arms or equipment of any 
sort that could be used in training for 
combat service. They are called out twice 
a week for what are virtually the rudiments 
of drill, the only elements of training 
which they get. 

Continuing, Moton urged the President: 

I would respectfully ask you to consider 
the long and honorable career of Negro 
troops in the service of the United States. 
It is the universal testimony that they are 
excellent soldiers and possessed with eager 
willingness in the performance of their 
duties under all conditions of service. It 
is more than unfortunate, it is an injustice, 
that regiments that have distinguished 
themselves in the way the ioth Cavalry 
and the 25th Infantry have done, should 
be reduced from combat service to be 
menials to white regiments, without chance 
for training or promotion and be excluded 
from other branches of the services. It is 
merely a pretense that Negroes are ac- 
corded the same treatment in the United 
States army as are given to white troops. 
It has never been the case and is not so 
now. This applies both to the rank and 
file, as witness the presence of the highest 
ranking Negro officer in the United States 
army at Tuskegee Institute at the present 
time, who, by reason of his color is denied 
service according to his rank and with his 
own regiment. 19 

Republican clubs and workers suggested 
that it would help considerably in the 
coming campaign if the matter could be 
adjusted. 20 The President, having writ- 



18 Ltr, Moton to Hoover, 18 Sep 31, forwarded to 
WD 22 Sep 31, AG 620 (4-23-31) (1) sec. 2B; see 
also Ltrs, Moton to Hoover, 31 Aug 31 and 27 
Oct 31, same file. The officer referred to was Col. 
Benjamin O. Davis. 

20 Ltr, Newton to Actg SW, 15 Sep 31; Resolu- 
tion, Third Ward Regular Republican Organiza- 
tion, Chicago, to the President, 5 Oct 31; Telg, 
New Jersey State Republican League, 28 Oct 31; 
Ltr, Comdr Tacitus E. Gaillard Post, Veterans of 
Foreign Wars, Kansas City, Mo., to the President, 
15 Jan 32. All in AG 620 {4-23-31) (1) sec. 2B. 



ten one personal note to the Secretary of 
War for information, now wrote an- 
other, saying: "We do not seem to be 
able to get the thing quiet. I am won- 
dering if there is anything you can do in 
the matter." 21 

"The matter" was not helped when 
The Cavalry Journal, which, in the opin- 
ion of laymen, ought to have known what 
it was talking about, carried an epitaph 
for the ioth Cavalry. Its text confirmed 
all the convictions of Negroes that the 
War Department had so completely de- 
nied: 

The passing of the ioth Cavalry as a 
combat regiment is an event of note and 
will come as a shock to many distinguished 
officers and soldiers who have served with 
it. The ioth Cavalry returns saber with a 
proud consciousness of duty well done. The 
past will preserve for it a record second 
to none. 

For the future we can confidently pre- 
dict that it will carry on in its new role 
with the same loyalty and high spirit that 
has given its motto a living meaning, 
"Ready and Forward." 22 

A photograph of ioth Cavalry master 
and first sergeants accompanying the ar- 
ticle bore the legend: "Vale: The ioth 
Cavalry 'Key Men' Returning Saber for 
the Last Time." 

Nor was the War Department's public 
position on the necessity for splitting the 
ioth Cavalry improved when similar or- 
ders for the 25th Infantry were revoked 
following vigorous protests, mass meet- 
ings, and petitions from white residents 
in the vicinity of Fort Omaha, Nebraska, 

21 Ltr, Hoover to SW, 30 Oct 31, AG 620 (4-23- 
31) (1) sec. 2B. 

22 "Organization Activities," The Cavalry Journal, 
XL (September-October, 1931) , 59. The source of 
this article was the ioth Cavalry itself. It revealed 
the expectation of the regiment upon receipt of 
orders. 



28 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



where two companies of the 25th were 
to have been sent. The War Depart- 
ment declared that there was no connec- 
tion between the two events, but the 
Negro citizens of Omaha, who had been 
as vigorously pressing for the location of 
the 25th's companies in their city, could 
not be convinced that the Army had not 
given in to white protests on the 25th 
while refusing to heed Negro protests on 
the 10th Cavalry. In order to assure 
their city's receipt of part of the 25th 
Infantry, they disavowed the NAACP's 
campaign to have both Negro units kept 
together and urged the War Department 
to change no orders at all. 23 

No matter what was done about the 
splitting of the regiments among several 
posts, the strength problem would have 
to be met. "In the adjustment of our 
military program," General Moseley 
wrote to Claude A. Barnett, director of 
the Associated Negro Press, "the fact is 
there is not enough Army to go around. 
This makes the problem often very dif- 
ficult. As you probably know, we are 
abandoning a number of posts and this 
has brought down upon us violent pro- 
tests from our white brethren. Thus 
far we have been able to withstand these 
attacks." 24 

Even after the resumption of enlist- 
ments in 1934, the tight vacancy situa- 
tion in Negro units allowed for little 
recruiting. Because enlistments could 
be accepted for vacancies only, a Negro 
who wished to join the Regular Army 



^Ltrs, various dates, AG 620 (4-23-31) (1) sec. 
zA; Ltr, Omaha NAACP to SVV, 5 Oct 31; Ltr, 
Actg CofS to Omaha NAACP, 9 Oct 31; Telg, John 
A. Singleton, President Omaha NAACP, to SW, 1 
Nov 31. Last three documents in AG 620 (4-23-31) 
(1) sec. 2B. 

24 Ltr, DCofS to Barnett, 15 Oct 31, AG 620 
(4-23-31) (1) sec. 2B. 



could not present himself at a recruiting 
station, make application, be examined, 
and be accepted or rejected. During 
the earlier years of the depression, the 
same situation with regard to an excess 
of applicants over vacancies existed for 
white units. White recruiting, how- 
ever, never came to a complete halt, and 
in the middle and late thirties recruiting 
stations were nearly always able to ac- 
cept well-qualified white applicants. 
But a Negro seeking to join the Army 
had to find out what posts had elements 
of a Negro unit, discover where vacan- 
cies existed, apply to the commanding 
officer of the post or unit where service 
was desired, and present himself at the 
post at his own expense once enlistment 
was authorized. The Army explained 
that it had no funds for transporting 
recruits over the great distances outside 
their own corps areas which many Ne- 
groes had to travel to reach posts where 
vacancies existed. 25 Often a trip from 
the east coast to Arizona, where the 25th 
Infantry was stationed, was involved. 
As a result, few prospective enlistees got 
beyond the stage of making inquiries at 
a recruiting station. But the popular- 
ity of prospective military service was 
such that requests for enlistments in the 
old regiments sometimes came from 
great distances— even from as far away 
as the Philippines. 

The restrictions on size, number, and 
types of Negro units, added to the high 
proportion of re-enlistments and the 
consequent inability to take many re- 
cruits, made it difficult for the Negro 
units to prepare themselves for the job 



20 Ltr, TAG to Senator Elmer Thomas, Okla., 13 
Apr 39, AG 291.21 (4-10-39) . 



PEACETIME PRACTICES AND PLANS 



29 



of providing a nucleus of young, trained 
Negro men who might be valuable in 
an expanded wartime Army. Because 
all elements of the regiments were sel- 
dom assembled and stationed at the same 
posts, and because so many of the ele- 
ments and detachments were used for 
housekeeping duties, training beyond 
the level of the disciplined life of the 
garrison soldier was difficult. The regi- 
ments, or those portions available, did 
participate in field exercises with other 
units of the Army from time to time, 
but for the most part they had little save 
ceremonial and rudimentary training 
duties to perform. The Negro press and 
public, in their long campaign for in- 
creased enlistment opportunities, did 
not overlook the ready opportunity to 
cite the disadvantages of a situation in 
which recruiting, posters and stations 
were in evidence in the business sections 
of most cities while potential Negro 
trainees lacked vacancies in which they 
could be placed. The young Negro who 
successfully found his way into the Reg- 
ular Army as an enlisted man was looked 
upon as an extremely fortunate young 
man. 

The opportunity for the young Negro 
to become a Regular Army officer was 
even more limited. Between 1920 and 
1940 only one Negro was graduated from 
the Military Academy at West Point, 
though others were appointed. 26 In 

1940 two other cadets, in the classes of 

1941 and 1943, were enrolled at the 
academy. The total number of Negro 



M Up to 1940 a total of four Negroes had been 
graduated from West Point: Henry O. Flipper, 
Cavalry, 1877; John H. Alexander, Cavalry, 1887; 
Charles Young, Cavalry, 1889; Benjamin O. Davis, 
Jr., Infantry, 1936. 



Regular Army officers was five, of whom 
three were chaplains. 

The Civilian Components 

During the period between world 
wars several large cities had National 
Guard units allotted to Negroes; most 
of the units had existed before World 
War I and some before the War with 
Spain. Only one of these, the 369th 
Infantry (New York) was maintained 
with all of its elements. The 8th Illi- 
nois Infantry was maintained minus one 
battalion. The 372d Infantry, with two 
battalions and one company of a third, 
was split among Massachusetts, Ohio, and 
the District of Columbia, with a New 
Jersey unit added just before mobiliza- 
tion in 1940. Maryland had a separate 
company, which became the Service 
Company of the 373d in 1940. The 
regiment's headquarters, band, and med- 
ical detachment were unallotted; agree- 
ment among the states concerned was 
necessary before a commanding officer 
and other field officers could be ap- 
pointed. Split as it was, among four 
states in four corps areas, supervision of 
this regiment for peacetime training as 
a unit was practically impossible. 

Senior infantry units of the Reserve 
Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) were 
established at Howard University in 
Washington and at Wilberforce Univer- 
sity in Ohio. Although Negro students 
at other Northern universities were per- 
mitted to take ROTC training in mixed 
units provided that they could qualify, 
Negroes in ROTC units outside of 
Howard and Wilberforce were rare. 
Charges were made in peacetime that at 
certain schools "qualifications" included 
being white. Despite investigations, 



30 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



such charges were difficult to prove, for 
the decision on academic qualifications 
rested with the school authorities. 27 

Negro Reserve officers, numbering 353 
eligible reservists in 1940, 28 were as- 
signed to regiments of the Organized 
Reserves and were given summer camp 
training when they requested it. The 
only Negro Reserve regiment which was 
even nearly staffed was the 428th Infan- 
try (District of Columbia). Corre- 
spondence and lecture courses were open 
to Negro reservists and, where their 
numbers were large enough, separate 
lectures were organized for them. Jun- 
ior ROTC's, "55c" units, and high 
school cadet corps were available to Ne- 
groes in certain schools, such as Hampton 
Institute in Virginia, Tuskegee Institute 
in Alabama, North Carolina Agricul- 
tural and Technical College, and Prairie 
View College in Texas, and in certain 
public high schools, notably in Washing- 
ton, D.C., 29 Chicago, and Gary. 

Citizens' Military Training Camps 
were organized and located on the basis 
of applications received. There were 
periodic criticisms of the Army for not 
operating camps to which Negro youths 
could be assigned in each corps area. 30 
At various times, these camps were op- 
erated in the Third, Seventh, Eighth, 

21 Ltr, Walter D. McClurc, Jr. (Roxbury, Mass.) , 
to SW, 13 Apr 41, and answer, TAG to McClure, 
18 Apr 41, AG 291.21 (4-13-41) (1); Rpt, Lt Col 
Willis J. Tack, PMS8cT, University of Akron, re 
Allegations . . . [of] Samuel R. Shepard [concerning 
racial discrimination in ROTC], 3 Dec 41, AG 
391.31 (11-17-41) (3). 

28 Tab C to Memo, G-i for CofS, 28 Sep 40, AG 
210.31 ORC (g-28-40) . 

20 The Negro units of the Washington High 
School Cadet Corps evidenced their esteem for the 
Regular Army Negro units by designating their 
regiments the 24th and 25th, composing the 9th 
Brigade of Washington High School Cadets. 

s ° See The Crisis, XXVII (February, 1924), 151. 



and Ninth Corps Areas. In the late 
thirties the Third Corps Area camp was 
staffed by Negro officers. 

Relatively few Negroes were directly 
affected by the opportunities in the ci- 
vilian components for military experi- 
ence. The Reserve elements and the 
National Guard units were so distributed 
geographically that the vast bulk of the 
Negro public hardly knew of their exist- 
ence and had no means available for 
taking advantage of them. After being 
guaranteed retention of their National 
Guard units and after the establishment 
of ROTC units, most Negroes paid little 
attention to the training activities of the 
civilian components, although there 
were sporadic signs of concern over lim- 
ited ROTC and Citizens' Military 
Training Camp opportunities. Like 
the rest of the population between wars 
Negroes were disposed to think of the 
Army primarily in connection with pa- 
rades, veterans' organizations, and new 
and sensational weapons discussed in 
Sunday magazine supplements. 

The Planning Problem 

The Army in the meantime was de- 
veloping its plans for employing Negro 
manpower in the event of war. The 
central theme of this planning was that 
types of units must be found in which 
Negroes could serve with greatest profit 
to the country, the Army, and them- 
selves. Since cultural considerations— 
the Army's estimate of the state of do- 
mestic race relations, an estimate 
strongly supported by most social and 
political institutions in the twenties- 
made separate Negro units an undis- 
puted reality, maintaining a workable 
balance between white and Negro units 



PEACETIME PRACTICES AND PLANS 



31 



was of prime importance to the develop- 
ment of a citizen army capable of de- 
fending the country without unduly 
offending either Negroes or whites. To 
this assumption several others were cor- 
ollaries, It was generally assumed that 
Negro troops would respond to the train- 
ing techniques that were effective with 
white troops, although it was frequently 
stated that their training period might 
have to be longer. Because of their civil- 
ian backgrounds and the reports from 
World War I, it was generally consid- 
ered that they would be more useful as 
service than as combat troops. It was ex- 
pected that they would respond to the 
same types of motivation and methods of 
leadership which were effective with 
white troops, although much emphasis 
was placed on the use of white officers if 
the best was to be obtained from Negro 
units. Any marked departure from the 
normal training standard for purposes of 
increasing the efficiency of Negro troops, 
it was felt, would be considered discrim- 
inatory. 

Since most of the reports from World 
War I did not emphasize training or 
leadership deficiencies, except in rela- 
tion to the use of Negro officers, the prob- 
lems of leadership and training did not 
loom large in comparison with those of 
the formal organization of Negro troops 
for effective military service. It was as- 
sumed that no matter how Negro units 
were organized, they would have to be 
used as integral parts of corps and 
armies and not as units grouped sep- 
arately into corps or armies of their 
own. 31 How Negro units could best be 



31 Only once in the history of the United States 
Army was a Negro unit of corps sue organized; 
this organization, the XXV Corps, was formed 



organized for use with white units as 
part of a unified military team was an 
important issue but it was lost sight of 
in the attempt to find the answer to the 
primary question: How could the Negro 
portion of the nation's manpower best 
be employed in time of war? And then: 
How could Negro manpower be used 
with the least stress on military effective- 
ness and on social customs? 

Units and numbers became the im- 
portant considerations, while training, 
leadership, and utilization techniques 
became secondary. The provision of 
Negro units in "proper" proportions 
would satisfy the major requirements. 
No serious attempt was made to use the 
existing peacetime Negro units as labora- 
tories for experience in methods of 
training or leading Negro troops, nor was 
a serious attempt made to insure the 
development of adequate leadership or 
of improved training methods through 
the use of the Reserve components avail- 
able to the Army, It was assumed that 
these problems would be no greater 
than in the past. 

Most of the proposals outlined in 
plans made for the utilization of Negro 
troops were put into effect in one way 
or another during the course of World 
War II. Many of the administrative and 
organizational problems of the employ- 
ment of Negro troops therefore may be 
better understood in light of both the 
World War I testimony and the develop- 
ing plans of the War Department Gen- 
eral Staff. In the unfolding story of the 
employment of Negroes in World War 
II, many details of plans made after 



toward the end of the Civil War. Like all Civil 
War corps it was a great deal smaller than a 
World War II corps. 



32 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



World War I and then virtually forgot- 
ten may be discerned. From the evolv- 
ing policy it is also possible to see 
reasons for certain developments, such 
as the initial choice of particular types 
of units for Negroes, the imbalance exist- 
ing between Negro and white inductions 
in the early period of mobilization, and 
the uncertainty which attended such 
questions as the provision and assign- 
ment of Negro officers and the commit- 
ment of Negro units to overseas duty. 

The 1922 Plan 

The basic features of the policy on 
the use of Negro manpower in time of 
war were formulated in 1922. The plan 
distributed at the end of that year re- 
mained essentially the same until it was 
rescinded in 1938. No expansion of the 
four Regular Army regiments, except to 
war strength, was provided. The forma- 
tion of Negro National Guard units was 
left entirely to the states. Any Negro 
units requested by the states were to be 
separate organizations in addition to the 
eighteen National Guard divisions 
which had been authorized. The 
establishment of Reserve units for Ne- 
groes was left entirely to each corps area 
commander. Only two corps areas, the 
Fourth and Fifth, had provided any Re- 
serve units for Negroes and none had 
made provision for Reserve combat 
units. The 1922 plan, therefore, had to 
provide an entirely new outline of what 
was needed if mobilization plans were 
to be representative of manpower as it 
existed in the population of the 
country. 

The 1922 staff study on which the 
plan was based made several primary 
assumptions which eventually became 



part of Army doctrine on the subject of 
the employment of Negro troops. 32 
Among these were: 

1. The use to be made of Negroes of 
military age in the event of complete 
mobilization is a basic problem in mo- 
bilization planning. 

2. If mobilization plans do not in- 
clude "a comprehensive policy in this 
regard that will be sound and fair and 
will appeal to intelligent judgment," 
political pressures will ensue that will 
force the War Department to shoulder 
the responsibility alone. "The possibil- 
ity of arriving at a satisfactory solution 
under such circumstances is slight." 

3. For the general social and economic 
good of the country, Negroes must be 
utilized in combat as well as in service 
units. "To follow the policy of exempt- 
ing the negro population of this coun- 
try from combat service means that the 
white population, upon which the fu- 
ture of the country depends, would suf- 
fer the brunt of loss, the negro popula- 
tion, none; the rising white generation 
34 percent, and the rising negro popu- 
lation, nothing." 33 

4. Military realities and not "social, 
ethnological and psychological" theories 
must be the deciding factors in deter- 
mining the use to be made of Negro 
manpower. "Briefly, these [military 
realities] are: that the negro is a citizen 
of the United States, entitled to all of the 
rights of citizenship and subject to all of 
the obligations of citizenship; that the 
negro constitutes an appreciable part of 

82 Memo, G-3 for CofS, s8 Nov as, AG 322.97 

(ll-S>8-2S) (1). 

38 The 34 percent loss figure was based on the 
percentage of casualties in the mobilized force of 
Great Britain during World War I, a figure which 
was considered comparable to the losses which the 
United States might expect in event of all-out war. 



PEACETIME PRACTICES AND PLANS 



33 



our military manhood; that while not 
the best military material, he is by no 
means the worst; that no plan of mobili- 
zation for the maximum effort can af- 
ford to ignore such a fraction of the 
manhood, especially in these times 
when war makes demands upon the 
physical defectives and the women; and 
finally, that in a democracy such as ours 
political and economic conditions must 
be considered, and that decision must 
rest upon these two considerations 
alone." 

The study offered solutions for the 
three major controversial questions 
raised by World War I: the use of Ne- 
groes as combat troops; the size and na- 
ture of Negro units; and the race of 
officers for Negro units. 

On the question of the employment of 
Negroes as combat troops, the study 
concluded that, from World War I ex- 
amination records, at least half of the 
Negro effectives were eligible for com- 
bat service and should be so assigned. 
Psychological test data from World War 
I showed that Negroes ranked lower than 
whites. But there were "some Negroes in 
all intelligence grades." The 1922 study 
concluded that: "As a matter of fact, we 
have to sift our white population for 
suitable combat material. The fact that 
the sifting would result in relatively 
fewer Negroes for combat duty is not an 
excuse for not sifting the Negro popula- 
tion at all." 

As far as the size of Negro combat units 
was concerned, the paper agreed that 
smaller units led by white officers and 
operating "either separately or in con- 
junction with other white troops" had 
achieved a greater measure of success in 
the past than large Negro units. The 
study therefore recommended: . . to 



play safe . . . Negro units should not be 
grouped exclusively in organizations as 
large as a division, but smaller units 
should be grouped with white units. We 
know that white regiments and negro 
regiments have operated successfully 
side by side, and, this being the case, 
there appears no good reason why they 
should not be brigaded together." Since 
there was no past experience in group- 
ing Negro and white battalions in the 
same regiment, this type of organization 
was not recommended. 

The use of Negro officers was the 
third controversial question which the 
study attempted to answer. The lack of 
success of Negro divisional troops in 
World War I may have been due to the 
"preponderance of Negro officers," but, 
the study pointed out, "the record of 
Negro regiments which operated with 
the French is not discreditable, even 
though in the case of at least two regi- 
ments, the Negro officers greatly 
predominated." 34 While the successful 
performance of Negro troops was de- 
pendent upon "proper leadership" by 
"white officers or by white officers in 
command of principal units," the study 
warned that 

"it is not reasonable to expect that the 
negro will be willing to serve in the ranks 
with no hope of a commission. Moreover, 
it cannot be fairly stated that no negro 
possesses the necessary qualities of leader- 
ship to make him an efficient officer. . . . 
Not all our white officers are selected from 
the ranks of the most intelligent. As a 
matter of fact, we commission many white 
officers of only average intelligence. It fol- 
lows that there must be some negroes of 
intelligence equal to some of the whites 

31 This point was not pursued to a discussion of 
any further differences which may have existed 
between the employment of these regiments by the 
French and by the AEF. 



34 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



whom we commission. The trouble in the 
past has been that we have not demanded 
from the negro the same standard of in- 
telligence, grade for grade, as from the 
white. 

Even in separate training camps giving 
identical courses "there was no means of 
comparing results." The only solution, 
the study concluded, was "to establish a 
rigid standard and to require whites and 
negroes alike to measure up to it." 

Since the composition of National 
Guard units was under state control— 
and the study argued that it should so 
remain— and since the four Regular 
regiments already provided for repre- 
sentation in the Regular Army, the ig2 2 
plan confined its attention to the provi- 
sion of units in the Organized Reserves, 
the only remaining component of the 
Army. Reserve units, thought of as 
"moulds into which the draft should be 
poured," were allotted to corps areas, 
whose commanders were to organize 
these units with a full complement of 
Reserve officers and a cadre of noncom- 
missioned officers and specialists. 

A major feature of the 1922 plan was 
the recommendation that corps area 
commanders, after "a careful study of 
the distribution of the Negro popula- 
tion," should block out regimental and 
battalion areas, properly subdivided 
into subordinate unit areas. From the 
units allotted to the corps areas, com- 
manders would provide units for Negro 
troops. These units were not to be de- 
veloped "for the present" except where 
properly qualified Negro officers were 
available to command them. Where no 
officers existed, units would remain un- 
organized until officers were developed. 

The 1922 plan was approved by the 
Secretary of War, John W. Weeks, on 



23 December and its provisions were 
communicated confidentially to corps 
area commanders on 27 December, with 
instructions that each corps area should 
make plans and recommendations for 
the use in initial mobilization of about 
50 percent of the Negro effectives avail- 
able in its area, half of these to be 
placed in combat organizations and the 
remainder in noncombatant organiza- 
tions. 35 Negro units were to be taken 
from unit allotments already made to 
the corps areas, except that extra infan- 
try units might be formed if needed. 
All were to be nondivisional units. The 
instructions included sample suggestions 
for individual corps areas. For example, 
it was suggested that the First Corps 
Area (New England) might form an 
infantry or field artillery battalion, or 
several batteries of coast artillery for 
harbor defense. The Third Corps Area 
(Pennsylvania, Maryland, District of 
Columbia, Virginia) might form from 
its 24,000 Negroes available for combat 
duty one infantry regiment in the vicin- 
ity of Philadelphia and another in Wash- 
ington. Nondivisional combat units 
could absorb the remaining 17,000 men. 
The Fourth Corps Area (southeastern 
states) , which contained the greatest 
number of Negroes, might provide ten or 
twelve extra infantry regiments, while 
the Ninth Corps Area (west coast and 
mountain states) , with a small number 
of effectives, might provide a regiment 
of artillery or companies of harbor de- 
fense troops. All units were to have 
Negro officers, except that where they 
could not be obtained white officers 
might fill vacancies, provided that no 

"Ltr, TAG to CG's Corps Areas, Depts, Chiefs 
Branches and Bureaus, CG District of Washington, 
27 Dec 22, AG 322.97 (1 1-28-22) (Misc Div), 



PEACETIME PRACTICES AND PLANS 



35 



Negro officer should command a white 
officer. 

Corps area commanders submitted 
their own plans for the use of the Negro 
manpower in their areas as requested. 
The only objections to the general plan 
came from two corps area commanders 
who felt that the Negro units should be 
in addition to their current allotments 
in order to prevent disruption of units 
already set up for white personnel. Extra 
cavalry units recommended by corps 
area commanders were not approved, 
but units of other arms and services were 
included in the authorized lists of units 
for Negroes. To prevent an unduly large 
number of extra infantry units, com- 
manders were authorized to clear 
allotted artillery units of white person- 
nel "if, in their opinion, it can be done 
without injury to morale" and then set 
these units aside for Negroes. The plans 
submitted by the commanders and the 
policy itself were approved and con- 
firmed on 12 July 1923. 3 * 

The only large question concerning 
the use of Negro troops in service units 
of the Organized Reserves was raised by 
the Engineers. The Chief of Engineers, 
in 1921, and again in 1923, opposed the 
allocation of Negroes to general service 
units, pointing out that these units re- 
quired officers and men with consider- 
able technical skill and that their duties 
"compel these troops to be exposed to 
the same conditions of fire and all the 
severe circumstances of front line fight- 
ing . . . without the opportunity to re- 
lieve the nerve strain by returning the 
fire of the enemy." He recommended 
that the War Department adopt and 



86 Ltr, TAG to CG's Corps Areas, 12 Jul 23, AG 
322.97 (6-30-23) (Misc) M-C. 



"promulgate" the policy that all engi- 
neer units, except auxiliary (separate) 
battalions, be white or, "if troops of 
other colors, that the personnel be spe- 
cially selected. ..." The War Depart- 
ment answered that it did not plan to 
restrict the use of Negroes to "any partic- 
ular types of organizations in any branch 
of the service" so far as corps aTea as- 
signment to the Organized Reserves was 
concerned. The Engineer objection was 
nevertheless filed for consideration in 
future revisions of mobilization plans. 
Though general service units were not 
entirely removed, the majority of them 
were replaced by auxiliary and, later, 
by separate battalions. 37 

Modifications and Developments 
'9*3-33 

Later mobilization plans did not gen- 
erally follow the 1922 policy so far as the 
ratios of combat to noncombat units was 
concerned; nor did they provide for the 
employment of Negro manpower in pro- 
portion to the general effective popula- 
tion available for military service. In 
addition to Reserve units, moreover, 
provision was made for Negro inactive 
Regular Army units which could be 
organized at specified periods after the 
beginning of mobilization. A ig28 plan, 
for example, provided for Regular Army 
inactive field artillery units among the 
combat arms; the bulk of Negroes were 
allotted to Regular Army inactive am- 



"Ltr, CofE to TAG, 24 Dec 21, and 1st Ind, 
TAG to CofE, 27 Jan 22, AG 320 Orgd Res (12- 
24-21); Ltr, OCE to TAG, 20 Jul 23; Ltr, TAG to 
CofE, 30 Jul 23. Last two in AG 322.97 (11-28- 
22) (1). 



36 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



munition trains, engineer auxiliary bat- 
talions, and quartermaster units. 88 

During the 1920's the subject of the 
future employment of Negro troops came 
to be considered so sensitive that it was 
felt that it was not in the best interest 
of the service to disseminate information 
concerning it too widely. The policy of 
cloaking plans for the use and designa- 
tion of Negro units in secrecy went so far 
in the late twenties that Negro units, as 
such, virtually disappeared from all ex- 
cept the War Department's own plans. 
After 1928, corps area commanders were 
not permitted to show on their mobili- 
zation plans those units which were to 
receive Negro troops. These instructions 
were not rescinded until 1938, when 
corps area commanders and chiefs of 
arms and services were directed to indi- 
cate "appropriately" the Negro units in 
their plans. 39 As a consequence, it was 
widely assumed both outside and inside 
the Army that no comprehensive plan 
for the employment of Negro troops in 
time of war existed. 

The basic assumptions of the 1922 
plan nevertheless remained in opera- 
tion. Four introductory points of a 
summary of existing plans prepared in 
1931 by the War Department Personnel 
Division (G-i) for the Deputy Chief of 
Staff are representative of those ele- 
ments of peacetime planning for the 
utilization of Negro manpower which 
remained constant: 

1. The negro being a citizen of the 
United States must, in a major emergency, 

38 Memo, G-3 for TAG, 28 Jul 28. AG 322.97 
(5-16-31). 

"Lit, TAG to All CG's Corps Areas and All 
Chiefs Arms and Svs, 28 Jul 28, AG 381 (7-28-28) 

(Misc) ; Ltr, TAG to All CG's Corps Areas and All 
Chiefs Arms and Svs, 1 Jan 38, AG 381 (1-11-38) 

(Misc) A-M. 



bear his proportionate share of the war 
burden. 

2. The negro manpower is 10.73% of 
the whole. 

3. Lack of policy regarding the use of 
the negro manpower caused the War De- 
partment to adopt during the World War, 
a course in regard to its use that was dic- 
tated more by political and racial condi- 
tions than sound military policy. 

4. Unless our mobilization plans provide 
for the use of the negro manpower in 
combat units the War Department will be 
forced to do so after the emergency arises. 
This may be a cause of great embarrass- 
ment. 40 

Fractional percentages for Negro 
strength shifted during the period, as 
new census figures and estimates be- 
came available. But the available pro- 
portionate Negro manpower remained 
slightly above or below 10 percent of the 
population throughout the two decades 
between Avars, and this percentage was 
used in policy papers. Providing for the 
full use of this proportionate share of 
population was a central theme in man- 
power studies and plans of the peace- 
time period. 

In 1931 a new study of the Negro 
manpower problem provided a plan 
which emphasized the desirability of de- 
ferring the organization of Negro units 
until after an emergency was well under 
way. No units larger than a battalion 
were to be organized in the first year of 
mobilization. The advantages to be ob- 
tained by this procedure were: fewer 
officers would be required for Negro 
units at a time when capable officers 
would be in great demand elsewhere; 
more rapid mobilization would be 
achieved by minimizing the problem of 

"Memo, G-i for DCofS, 25 May 31, AG 322.97 
(5-16-31). The summary itself was prepared from 
G-3 files. 



PEACETIME PRACTICES AND PLANS 



37 



where to locate and house large Negro 
units; greater latitude in employment 
would be obtained through attachment 
of small Negro units to larger white or 
Negro organizations; 41 and the impor- 
tance of the failure of a large Negro unit 
in combat would be minimized. The 
battalions would be inactive Regular 
Army units, 42 making them available for 
staffing by Regular Army officers and 
obviating any legal or ethical necessity 
of assigning Negro officers to them. 
Thirty-six battalions of infantry, six 
squadrons of cavalry, and twenty-four 
battalions of field artillery were to be 
provided. They were allotted to the 
corps areas and remained so allotted un- 
til 1940, although they had disappeared 
from mobilization plans by 1938. They 
were not to be organized until an emer- 
gency had arisen. To organize them 
earlier, it was felt, would present prob- 
lems of administration and invite politi- 
cal pressures which would be less likely 
after M-day, the date of the beginning 
of mobilization for war. 

For the first twelve months of war, 
these units were to operate with white 
regiments, "arousing friendly rivalry 
and increasing racial pride." At the end 
of the first year of a war, they were to 
be supplemented by the mobilization of 
the Negro regiments of the Organized 
Reserves. Negro officers would be eligi- 
ble for assignment to these Reserve regi- 
ments. Any larger units to be formed of 



Attachment of not more than one Negro in- 
fantry battalion, field artillery battalion, or cavalry 
squadron of the Regular Army to white infantry, 
field artillery, or cavalry regiments had been ap- 
proved in 1927. G-g/654i-Gen-i5i, 26 Mar 27. 

"Inactive units, in theory, exist but they have 
no enlisted men. Officers may be carried on assign- 
ment to inactive units, and enlisted men may be 
provided at any time. 



Negro enlisted men could be grouped 
from the existing smaller units in the 
theater of operations once the smaller 
units had proved their combat effi- 
ciency. 43 

For initial mobilization, a plan of 
1933 showed four infantry regiments 
(including two National Guard regi- 
ments), the separate combat battalions, 
two companies of infantry, two regi- 
ments of cavalry, nine engineer separate 
battalions, and two quartermaster serv- 
ice regiments. This provided for far 
less than a proportionate share of the 
manpower in the initial mobilization. 
Out of a total of 1,526,380 men in the 
initial mobilization, only 31,245 or 2.05 
percent would be Negro, while current 
estimates of the available manpower 
showed that 9.45 percent would be 
Negro. 

The 19} J Plan 

The War Department Personnel Di- 
vision, again studying the manpower 
problem in 1937, pointed out that fail- 
ure to provide larger percentages of 
Negroes in initial mobilization would 
result in the repetition of mistakes made 
in World War I. The study described 
certain of the errors which it hoped to 
avoid. In the first registration of man- 
power between 21 and 30 years of age 
in 1917, 9,562,518 (89.87 percent) were 
white while 1,078,333 (10.13 percent) 
were Negro. Of these, 3,110,659 (32.53 
percent) of the whites and 556,917 (51.- 
65 percent) of the Negroes were placed 
in Class I (unlimited service) . During 
the period of the first registration (5 
June to 11 September 1917), enlist- 



43 Memo, G-i for DCofS, 25 May 31, and Incl, AG 
3".97 (5->6-3i) • 



38 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



merits in this age group were approxi- 
mately 650,000 whites and 4,000 Negroes. 
This disproportion was the result of an 
almost total prohibition on the voluntary 
enlistment of Negroes because of the 
failure to provide units to which Ne- 
groes could be sent. Therefore, when 
selective service calls began in Septem- 
ber, the percentage of Negroes called 
was necessarily higher than that for 
whites (36.23 percent as compared with 
24.75 percent up to 15 December 1917) . 
The result of this situation was that at 
first white citizens objected to the re- 
moval of large percentages of whites 
from regions in which Negroes, though 
heavily represented in the population, 
were not being enlisted at all and 
Negroes objected because they were be- 
ing refused enlistment by the Army. 
After the operation of selective service 
began, the complaints were reversed: 
Negroes objected to their higher draft 
rates and whites objected to the removal 
of disproportionate numbers of Negro 
agricultural workers as well as to heavy 
concentrations of Negro soldiers in 
Southern camps. The system produced 
an unbalanced force within the Army, 
with Negroes, who could be expected to 
require a longer time for training, en- 
tering the Army later than men who 
were presumed to require less. 44 

To avoid the development of a 
racially unbalanced army in time of war, 
the G-i plan of 1937 proposed that, 
from M-day on, Negroes and whites 
should be mobilized in proportion to 
population. In order to do this, mobili- 
zation plans should be required to pro- 
vide enough Negro units for the initial 
period of expansion to guarantee a ra- 



cially proportionate Army. To achieve 
this result, Negroes would have to be en- 
listed in the early stages of mobilization 
at a rate in excess of their proportion in 
the population, for in the existing Regu- 
lar Army and National Guard they were 
below proportionate strength. Unless 
their initial disproportion were compen- 
sated for at the beginning of mobiliza- 
tion by a higher rate of enlistment and 
induction, they would remain below 
proportionate strength. Not only must 
additional units for Negroes be provided 
in mobilization plans, but also a greater 
opportunity for Negro citizens to volun- 
teer during the enlistment period must 
be provided if a racially proportionate 
Army were to be achieved from M-day 
on. A greater number of units than those 
shown in current mobilization plans 
would have to be earmarked for the 
receipt of Negro volunteers and drafted 
men- if the errors of 1917 were not to be 
repeated. In 1937 the strength of the 
Regular Army and the National Guard 
stood at approximately 360,000. Of this 
number 6,500 or approximately 1.8 per- 
cent were Negroes. To mobilize a mil- 
lion men, an additional 552,000 whites 
(86.25 percent) and 88,000 Negroes 
(13.75 percent) would have to be called 
if a proportion of 90.55 to 9.45 was to be 
attained. Thereafter, mobilization could 
proceed in an approximate ratio of 90.- 
55 to g.45 in all future stages of expan- 
sion. 45 

The 1937 G-i study resulted in 
changes in basic War Department policy 
on the mobilization of Negro manpower. 
Not the least of these was the approval 
of the recommendation that all policies 
concerning Negro manpower, with one 



" Memo, G-i for CofS, z6 Apr 37, G-1/14615. 



a Ibid. 



PEACETIME PRACTICES AND, PLANS 



39 



exception, be removed from the "Secret" 
classification and the resulting air of 
mystery which had surrounded the ques- 
tion for more than a decade. The excep- 
tion was the recommendation that Negro 
combat units have 50 percent more 
company officers attached than called 
for in tables of organization. This 
recommendation arose from the convic- 
tion that Negro troops, in addition to 
requiring more intensive training, would 
also require closer supervision in opera- 
tions—supervision which their noncom- 
missioned officers would be unable to 
insure unless far larger numbers of 
highly qualified noncommissioned of- 
ficers were available than was the case 
in World War I. While the 50 percent 
officer overstrength policy was to be fol- 
lowed, it was not to be published. 46 

Policies on the utilization of Negro 
manpower were to be announced in the 
same way that all other policies were 
announced, so that everyone concerned 
would understand what the full attitude 
of the War Department was before the 
beginning of an emergency. The 1937 
plan implied that full publication in 
sources to which the public would have 
access was desirable. But, in addition to 
reservations which War Department 
agencies had about the full and free 
publication of any of the general plans 
for an emergency, there were special 
and continuing misgivings about pub- 
licizing basic policies on the use of Negro 
manpower. The Army War College 
commandant gave a representative sum- 
mary of objections: 

I doubt the wisdom of the War Depart- 
ment announcing this policy at large. Its 
early announcement will give time for its 



Memo, OCS for G-i, 17 Feb 38, OCS/15384-5. 



careful study by those seeking political 
capital, for points on which the War De- 
partment may be attacked, or embarrassed. 

For example, to announce that there 
will be no discrimination against the negro 
race in the question of opportunity to bear 
its proper share of combat and non-com- 
batant duties; to announce that the negro 
population of the United States is approxi- 
mately g%; and then say . . . that "Existing 
units of the Regular Army and National 
Guard contain approximately 1.8% ne- 
groes," might serve as the basis for a drive 
for additional colored regiments in the 
Regular Army, or for the replacement of 
white regiments by colored, to make the 
proportion correct. 47 

Though the 1937 policies were removed 
from the "Secret" classification they did 
not become readily available to either 
the public or to the Army. 

The New Mobilization Regulations 

The approved recommendations of 
the 1937 plan were incorporated into 
Mobilization Regulations then being 
rewritten. 48 While this method of pub- 
lication removed the plans for Negro par- 
ticipation from their former "Secret" 
classification, Mobilization Regulations 
had a restricted circulation. They were 
distributed in limited numbers to the 
highest headquarters only: to the chiefs 
of arms, services, and bureaus, and to 
the commanders of corps areas, armies, 
and departments; and to general and 
special service schools. Neither the gen- 
eral public nor the majority of the Army 
had ready access to them. No one was 
given authority to publicize or discuss 

"Memo, Comdt AWC for G-i, 17 Apr 37 (Sec- 
ond Draft), G-1/14615 (4-26-36). 

46 They were published in MR 1-1, Personnel: 
Basic Instructions; MR i-a, Personnel Require- 
ments; MR 1-3, Officers; and MR 1-4, Officer 
Candidates, along with other pertinent regulations. 



40 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



any part of their contents with individ- 
uals either in or out of the Army who 
were not directly concerned with mo- 
bilization planning. Moreover, from six 
to twenty-four months were needed to 
process, edit, and publish these regula- 
tions. As portions of the regulations 
were prepared, mimeographed copies 
were distributed to the higher headquar- 
ters of the Army for use and comment. 
This procedure created a time lag be- 
tween the approval of the major 
features of the 1937 plan and their 
promulgation to even the restricted 
audience that they finally reached in 
their printed form. Thus, despite the 
decision to publish the Negro policy in 
detail in Mobilization Regulations— an 
advance over previous procedures in 
which only the most general statements 
were made— the Army's specific plans 
for the use of Negro troops remained an 
esoteric subject so far as the general 
public and most of the Army were con- 
cerned. By 1940 when the regulations 
were all completed and in print, the 
Army had already begun to move into 
its initial period of expansion, and mo- 
bilization had moved out of the realm 
of theory and into the realm of practice. 
References to the use of Negro troops in 
the new regulations represented a gen- 
erally unabsorbed and unfamiliar pol- 
icy. 

The approved features of the 1937 
War Department G-i plan, as published 
in the Mobilization Regulations as they 
made their successive appearances, in- 
cluded the following provisions: 

1. Negro manpower was to be indi- 
cated in mobilization plans, "when ap- 
plicable," at a percentage of the total 
mobilized strength approximately equal 
to the ratio between the Negro man- 



power of military age and the total man- 
power of military age. 49 

2. Each corps area was to furnish 
manpower approximately in the ratio of 
the total manpower mobilized, period 
by period, which the area's male popu- 
lation of military age bore to the total 
population of military age. "In the ap- 
plication of this provision whites and 
negroes will be computed separately." 50 
Each corps area would therefore provide 
Negroes in a ratio equal to the ratio of 
its Negro manpower of military age to 
the total Negro manpower of military 
age. 

3. "Unless conditions require modi- 
fication in the interests of national de- 
fense, the ratio of Negroes mobilized in 
the arms as compared with those mobi- 
lized in the services will be the same as 
for white troops." 51 

4. "Where desirable for training or 
other purposes, the War Department 
will provide for the early mobilization 
of negro units at war strength." 52 

5. Negroes, except when assigned to 
pools, were to be placed in Negro organ- 
izations. 53 All warrant officers and en- 



" MR 1-2, 1 Sep 38, par. 2. Modified in the 1 
May 1939 revision by the proviso "Where the situa- 
tion will permit and warrant such action." Dates 
given in these notes on the regulations will be 
those of initial publication, usually in mimeo- 
graphed copies distributed for comment. Where 
significant changes occurred in later versions they 
will be so noted. 

""MR 1-2 (1938), par. 2. 

51 Ibid. 

62 Ibid., par. lib. In the l May 1939 revision, 
par. 2a, the limitation was added: ". . . will, so 
far as practicable, provide in its plans." Both 1939 
versions added that the War Department's plans 
would include appropriate instructions where the 
foregoing procedures were inapplicable. MR 1-2 
(1939). P ar ' 

H MR 1-1, 23 Aug 38, par. ga (5) (c) . Later re- 
fined to include Negro units or subdivisions of 
installations, MR 1-1, 10 Feb 39. 



PEACETIME PRACTICES AND PLANS 



41 



listed rrren of Negro organizations were 
to be Negroes." 4 "Negro personnel re- 
quirements for units are provided for 
and established by the negro units sched- 
uled for mobilization by the War De- 
partment." 55 Warrant officer and 
enlisted personnel of another arm or 
service attached to Negro units were, ex- 
cept as otherwise prescribed by the War 
Department, to be Negroes. 56 

6. Reserve officers for Negro units of 
the Organized Reserves, officers for Ne- 
gro organizations in installations, and 
chaplains for Negro Regular Army units 
might be Negro. 57 For National Guard 
units, Negro officers were to be restricted 
to those positions in Negro units au- 
thorized for Negro officers. Whether 
such authorized positions were to be 
filled by Negro officers would depend 
upon the availability of qualified per- 
sonnel. 58 

7. The number of Negro officer candi- 
dates would not exceed the number 
required to provide officers for organ- 
izations authorized to have Negro officers, 
account being taken of the necessary loss 
replacements and of the number of Ne- 
gro officers already available on initi- 
ation of mobilization. "The actual 
number procured, trained, and commis- 
sioned will depend, as for all other 
eligibles, upon the number who qualify 
under the prescribed standards." 59 
"The prescribed standards will be 
rigidly applied on the basis of individual 



"MR 1-2, 15 Jul 39, par. igb (5). 

"MR 1-2 (1938), par. 11b; 15 Jul 39, par. 19b. 

M MR 1-2 (1938), par. 5b (4) . 

67 MR 1-2, 1 May 39, par. 11b; par. 11c (4). The 
15 July 1939 version changed "may" to "will" for 
these officer requirements. (Par. toe.) 

68 MR 1-2, 15 Jul 39, par. 10c. 

"MR 1-2 (1938 and May 39 versions), par. nd, 
and 15 Jul 39 version, par. 13b. 



merit, without exception as to such fac- 
tors as race, religion, financial status, or 
social position." 60 

8. Negroes were to be assigned to 
service command and War Department 
overhead installations in a percentage 
"not less than" the percentage of Ne- 
groes in the total male population of 
military age within the corps area in 
which these installations were located. 
In overhead installations controlled by 
the chiefs of arms and services, Negroes 
were to be employed in a percentage 
"at least equal to the percentage of Ne- 
groes in the total male population of 
military age." Rare exceptions might 
be made by the War Department on the 
basis of the merits of each case. 01 

9. So far as practicable, Negroes as- 
signed to zone of interior installations 
such as reception centers, replacement 
centers, and unit training centers for 
processing, training, or permanent duty 
during mobilization, were to be assigned 
to installations in the general areas 
where they were procured. 62 

Percentages and Types 

In a letter supplementing the issu- 
ance of the new Mobilization Regula- 
tions, the percentage ratio of Negroes to 
whites for the United States at large and 
for the installations under the control 
of chiefs of arms and services was fixed 
at approximately 9 percent. For the 
several corps areas and installations of 
the War Department not under the con- 
trol of chiefs of arms and services lo- 
cated therein the percentages were fixed 
as follows: First Corps Area, 1.26 per- 

80 MR 1-4, 17 Oct 38, par. ib. 

61 MR 1-2 (1938), par. 11c; 15 Jul 39, par. 19c. 

« MR 1-1 (1938) , par. 9 a (5) (c). 



42 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



cent; Second Corps Area, 4.26 percent; 
Third Corps Area, 1 1.25 percent; Fourth 
Corps Area, 33.37 percent; Fifth Corps 
Area, 6.45 percent; Sixth Corps Area, 
4.25 percent; Seventh Corps Area, 5.58 
percent; Eighth Corps Area, 10.52 per- 
cent; Ninth Corps Area, 1.03 percent.** 
These percentages were approximately 
the ratios of Negro to white manpower in 
each corps area. They provided a fore- 
cast of the distribution of Negro enlisted 
men by geographical area. 

The 1937 plan provided that Negroes 
should be organized into the following 
types of units: 

Infantry regiments, GHQ Reserve 
Cavalry regiments, GHQ Reserve 
Artillery regiments, heavy, long-range 

calibers, GHQ Reserve 
Harbor defense troops 
Corps and army ammunition trains 
Engineer general service regiments, 
separate battalions, and dump truck 
companies 
Quartermaster service, remount, and 
truck regiments; service and port 
battalions; railhead and salvage com- 
panies; and pack trains 
Ordnance companies (ammunition) 
Corps area service command units 
War Department overhead 

Significantly, the list omitted the sep- 
arate battalions of the combat arms 
which had been authorized in 1927 and 
which had appeared in the 1933 mobi- 
lization plans, 64 thereby effectively re- 



08 Appendix D, Percentages of Negro Manpower, 
to Ltr, TAG to Chiefs Arms, Svs, and Bureaus; 
Army, Corps Area Comdrs; CG GHQ AF; Super- 
intendent USMA; Comdts Gen Sv Schools; CG's 
PofE's; CG's Gen Depots, 3 May 39, AG 381 
(3-3-89) (Misc) A-M. 

M G-3/6541-Gen-igi, 26 Mar 27, approved 16 
Apr 27. 



scinding the provision for separate 
battalions of Negro troops which could 
be attached to larger white units. 65 

The 1937 plan and policy, as outlined 
above, was the one in effect in 1940, the 
first year of active preparation for de- 
fense through a general peacetime 
expansion of the Army. But policy and 
practice, again, were not identical. 

From the listing of Negro units 
in the Protective Mobilization Plan 
(PMP) of 1940, as shown in |Table i, 
it is obvious that, even within the 
limits of planning, in which inactive 
units could be shifted as necessary, the 
published mobilization planning policy 
as it affected Negroes was not being ad- 
hered to. The 1937 policy required that 
Negro manpower be maintained at a 
ratio approximately in proportion to 
the total manpower available, that is, 
from 9 to 10 percent. The units pro- 
vided in the 1940 PMP contained 5.81 
percent Negroes in the total of enlisted 
men. 66 The policy required further that 
the ratio of Negro combat troops to serv- 
ice troops be the same as that of white 
troops. Of the 5.81 percent Negro per- 
sonnel in the PMP, by far the largest 
proportions were assigned to the Infan- 
try, the Engineers, and the Quartermas- 
ter Corps. Other arms had no Negro 
units or disproportionately small num- 
bers of Negro units. None of the re- 
visions of the PMP since 1938 had 
complied with the provision on the ratio 
of combat to service troops. In those 



65 Additional Memo, G-i for CofS, 8 Feb 38, 
G-1/14615. 

68 War Department overhead and corps area 
service commands were maintaining 9 percent Ne- 
gro personnel in plans submitted to G-i for ac- 
tion. Memo, G-3 for CofS, 3 Jun 40, G—3/6541- 
Gen-527. Replacement centers on M plus 90 were to 
have 4.4 percent Negroes. An. 2, WD PMP 1940. 



PEACETIME PRACTICES AND PLANS 



4S 



Table 1 — Negro Units in Protective Mobilization Plan, 1940 
(Continental United States) 









Enlisted 


Unit 


Corps Area 


Status* 


War 








Strength 


Total 






44,537 








24th Inf Regt 


IV 


RA-PA 


2,660 


25th Inf Regt 


VIII 


RA-PA 


2,660 


369th Inf Regt 


II 


NG-A 


2,660 


8th Illinois Inf Regt (less 1 Bn) 


VI 


NG-A 


1,910 


372d Inf Regt 








2d Inf Bn 


V 


NG-A 


750 


3d Inf Bn 


I 


NG-A 


750 


Rifle Co A 


III 


NG-A 


188 


1st Sep Inf Rifle Co 


III 


NG-A 


188 


9th Cav Regt 


VII 


RA-PA 


1,272 


10th Cav Regt 




RA-PA 


1,244 


94th Field Arty Regt (8-in. How) 


IV 


RA-I 


1,968 


44th Coast Arty Regt (155 mm. Gun TD) 


III 


RA I 


1,865 




IV 


RA-I 


1,176 


59th Engr Bn (Sep) 


IV 


RA-I 


1,079 


66th Engr Bn (Sep) 


IV 


RA-I 


1,079 


65th Engr Bn (Sep) 


V 


RA-I 


1,079 


99th Engr Bn (Sep) 


IV 


RA-I 


1,079 


62d Engr Bn (Sep) 


III 


RA-I 


1,079 


63d Engr Bn (Sep) 


IV 


RA-I 


1,079 


67th Engr Bn (Sep) 


IV 


RA-I 


1,079 


69th Engr Bn (Sep) 


V 


RA-I 


1,079 


70th Engr Bn (Sep) 


VI 


RA-I 


1,079 


98th Engr Bn (Sep) 


VI 


RA-I 


1,079 


16th Engr Co (Dump Truck) 


II 


RA-I 


150 




V 


RA-I 


150 


21st Engr Co (Dump Truck) 


VII 


RA-I 


150 


47th QM Regt (Truck) 


VIII and IX 


RA-PA 


1,300 


48th QM Regt (Truck) 


IV and V 


RA-PA 


1,300 


354th QM Regt (Service) 


IV 


RA-I 


2,518 


255th QM Regt (Service) 


IV 


RA-I 


2,518 


201st QM Bn (Gas Supply) 


II 


RA-I 


388 


202d QM Bn (Gas Supply) 


VI 


RA-I 


388 


203d QM Bn (Gas Supply) 


V 


RA-I 


388 


204th QM Bn (Gas Supply) 


V 


RA-I 


388 


205th QM Bn (Gas Supply) 


IV 


RA-I 


388 


206th QM Bn (Gas Supply) 


IV 


RA-I 


388 


207th QM Bn (Gas Supply) 


VII 


RA-I 


388 


208th QM Bn (Gas Supply) 


VII 


RA-I 


388 


209th QM Bn (Gas Supply) 


III 


RA-I 


388 


210th QM Bn (Gas Supply) 


III 


RA-I 


388 



See footnotes at end of table. 



44 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Table 1 — Negro Units in Protective Mobilization Plan, 1940 
(Continental United States)" — Continued 



Unit 


Corps Area 


Status 6 


Enlisted 

War 
Strength 


211th QM Bn (Gas Supply) 


VI 


RA I 


388 


212th QM Bn (Gas Supply) 


VI 


RA-I 


388 


391st QM Bn (Port) 


ii 


RA-I 


807 


394th QM Bn (Port) 


IX 


RA I 


807 


86th QM Co (Railhead) 


ii 


RA-I 


100 


88th QM Co (Railhead) 


IV 


RA-I 


100 


92d QM Co (Railhead) 


VII 


RA-I 


100 



•Total in units (white and Negro), PMP, 1940, continentaL U.S., 769,666; percentage of Negro personnel in units, 
PMP, 1940, 5.81 percent. 

6 RA, Regular Army; A, active; PA, partially active (some elements inactive); I, inactive. 



Source: Tab B, Memo, G-8 for CofS, 3 Jun 40, G-3/6541-Gen-B27. 



branches which contained both combat 
and noncombat types of units, Negro 
troops were placed principally in the 
noncombat types, such as engineer sep- 
arate battalions. Aside from the active 
units of infantry and cavalry in the Reg- 
ular Army and the National Guard, the 
number of combat units in the PMP was 
limited to one field artillery and one 
coast artillery regiment. 

This condition was brought about 
largely by objections on the part of 
chiefs of arms and services who opposed 
the assignment of Negro personnel to 
their branches. 67 Many of the objections 
of the branches may be traced to the 
legacy of World War I. To these must 
be added two other considerations in- 
fluencing decisions: first, a large residue 
of popular beliefs and stereotypes con- 
cerning Negroes, many of which ap- 
peared in "documented" tracts and 
pseudoscientific studies of the first dec- 



" Memo, G~3 for CofS, 3 Jun 40, G-3/6541- 
Gen-527. 



ades of this century, and second, imper- 
fectly understood theories of intelligence 
and adaptability. 

Student officers, many of whom later 
occupied policy making positions in their 
respective branches, absorbed the ma- 
terials of successive school studies, add- 
ing to them whatever new materials 
might be readily available, producing 
by agglutination new school studies to 
be used in like manner by later classes. 
Out of these studies and accompanying 
discussions came a semiofficial credo 
matching in many ways beliefs widely 
held among the general public. Some of 
the more elaborate school studies were 
occasionally borrowed for use by staff 
divisions; their more important influ- 
ence, however, was in molding the atti- 
tudes of the students who produced and 
used them. In the absence of other 
materials, their use was frequent. 

One of the most complete of the brief 
summaries appearing in such a study, 
one produced at the Army War College 
by a committee of field grade students, 



PEACETIME PRACTICES AND PLANS 



45 



most of whom were to play important 
parts in World War II, provides a repre- 
sentative summary example of the per- 
sonality problem which commanders 
expected to meet in the employment of 
Negro troops: 

As an individual the negro is docile, 
tractable, lighthearted, care free and good 
natured. If unjustly treated he is likely to 
become surly and stubborn, though this is 
usually a temporary phase. He is careless, 
shiftless, irresponsible and secretive. He 
resents censure and is best handled with 
praise and by ridicule. He is unmoral, un- 
truthful and his sense of right doing is 
relatively inferior. Crimes and convictions 
involving moral turpitude are nearly five 
to one as compared to convictions of whites 
on similar charges. 

On the other hand the negro is cheerful, 
loyal and usually uncomplaining if rea- 
sonably well fed. He has a musical nature 
and a marked sense of rhythm. His art is 
primitive. He is religious. With proper 
direction in mass, negroes are industrious. 
They are emotional and can be stirred to 
a high state of enthusiasm. Their emotions 
are unstable and their reactions uncertain. 
Bad leadership in particular is easily com- 
municated to them. 68 

"Intelligence" as a factor in the em- 
ployability of Negroes was especially 
stressed by branches which considered, 
their duties to require relatively high 
skills and considerable specialized train- 
ing. By World War I "intelligence" 
test scores, nearly 80 percent of all Ne- 
groes were grouped in the two lowest 

68 Memo for Chairman of Com 3, 12 Nov 36, 
prepared by Subcom 2, in Rpt of Com 3, Course 
at AWC, 1936—37, Preparation for War Period, 
Part I, G—i Subcourse, AWC 1-1937-3. This state- 
ment expresses in summary form most of the 
attitudes and assumptions o£ earlier War College 
and other school studies. For fullness, compare 
with Guy B. Johnson, "The Stereotype of the 
American Negro," Characteristics of the American 
Negro, Otto Klineberg, cd. (New York: Harper 
and Brothers, 1944) , pp. 3-4. 



classes. The conclusion was reached, in 
certain studies, that here was proof of 
the innate lower intelligence of Ne- 
groes. 69 But within the range of infor- 
mation afforded by these tests, doubts 
that general racial conclusions of this 
sort could be drawn soon arose. Later 
studies pointed out that the test scores of 
Negroes varied within and among 
groups from different sections of the 
country. The example of Negroes from 
Northern industrial states, where both 
economic and educational opportunities 
were highly developed, who scored high- 
er than whites from Southern agricul- 
tural states, where similar opportunities 
were less well developed, was often cited 
to show that opportunity and environ- 
ment evidently had much to do with the 



68 Of the World War I intelligence tests, no 
competent, full-scale critical analysis on the basis 
of later developments in testing has been made. 
One of the earliest critical statements was made 
in 1927: 

"It is necessary to avoid the confusion likely to 
result from the familiar quibble over terms. By 
intelligence we may understand the ability to 
perform problems that reflect an understanding 
of a familiar environment. But this is not the 
sort of thing the Army examiners undertook to 
measure. The Army Memoir denned intelligence 
as the thing measured by the tests. . . . 'by "in- 
telligence" we mean the ability that manifests 
itself quantitatively in a set of consistent scores 
in all the types of examination upon which our 
data are based.' Defined in this manner, the tests, 
or any other conceivable tests that anyone may 
wish to set up, are an irrefragable, indisputable, 
and perfect measure of intelligence." 

Edward B. Reuter, The American Race Problem 
(New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1927) , p. 8gn. 
The confusion of terms continued throughout the 
discussion of World War I tests and persisted 
through World War II, where the general classifi- 
cation test was almost universally considered an 
intelligence test. See Otto Klineberg, "Racial 
Psychology," in Ralph Linton, ed., The Science of 
Man in the World Crisis (New York: Columbia 
University Press, 1945). 



46 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



scores made on World War I tests. 70 The 
more advanced Army studies took these 
factors into consideration. Some pre- 
dicted that, as opportunities improved, 
so would test achievements, but most 
reached the conclusion that the reasons 
for the differentials in test scores did not 
alter the fact that Negroes, rated by the 
same standards on the same tests, gener- 
ally scored lower than whites. 

Therefore, it was reasoned, the 
chances of producing efficient military 
units with Negroes were considerably 
lower than with whites. As a result, even 
though the General Staff might approve 
an equitable representation of Negroes 
in all branches, the chiefs of branches 
who had immediate responsibilities for 
the production of trained units were re- 
luctant to designate units in mobiliza- 
tion plans, or later, in troop bases, for 
their reception. Long and detailed 
justifications for their inability to do so 
were a commonplace. The continuing 
reluctance of all arms and most services 
to provide units for Negroes was a major 
deterrent to the application of War De- 
partment policies on the utilization of 
Negro troops throughout the first half of 
World War II. 

The Revisions of 1940 

In the summer of 1940, the War De- 
partment Organization and Training 
Division (G-3) sought to correct flaws 
in the application of the 1937 policy to 
the Protective Mobilization Plan. Cer- 
tain of the provisions such as the author- 
ization of Negro personnel for corps and 
army ammunition trains were out- 
moded, since these units had been elim- 



Klineberg, "Racial Psychology." 



inated from the Army. The problem of 
the lack of balance between Negro com- 
bat and service troops remained. To 
solve it, G-3 recommended that the list 
of units authorized Negro personnel be 
expanded and that all arms and services,, 
except Air Corps and Signal Corps, be 
required to accept for assignment in ap- 
propriate units a "reasonable propor- 
tion" of Negroes. Restrictions on Negro 
separate battalions, G-3 pointed out, 
should be relaxed, since in the future 
separate battalions might prove desir- 
able in certain arms, such as coast artil- 
lery harbor defense and antiaircraft 
units. Moreover, separate battalions 
would lessen the problem of the absorp- 
tion of Negro officers should it be decided 
to replace them with white officers after 
the beginning of mobilization. G-3 
recommended that the new policy pro- 
vision read: "The largest unit of any 
arm or service to be organized of Negro 
personnel is the regiment." This would 
allow for the organization of separate 
battalions or smaller units and, at the 
same time, block any efforts of Negro 
civilian organizations to effect a brigade 
grouping of infantry regiments in the 
National Guard. "Otherwise," G-3 felt, 
"difficulty may be experienced during 
mobilization in absorbing negro general 
officers." 71 

Both the Personnel Division and the 
War Plans Division disagreed with G-3 
on that part of its proposal which would 
exempt the Air and Signal Corps from 
providing units for Negro troops. War 
Plans indicated that, in its opinion, 

... it is neither desirable nor practicable 
in a major mobilization to exclude Negro 



n Memo, G-3 for CofS, 3 Jun 40, G-3/6541- 
Gen-527. 



PEACETIME PRACTICES AND PLANS 



47 



manpower per se from any Arm or Service. 
Furthermore, it is the opinion of this Divi- 
sion that Negro manpower can be as suc- 
cessfully employed in some capacities in 
both the Air Corps and the Signal Corps as 
it is in the other Arms and Services. . . . 
Any limitation in the use of Negroes in 
the Arms and Services must be predicated 
upon the actual availability of personnel 
with required qualifications rather than 
upon any arbitrary elimination of the Ne- 
gro as a whole on the grounds of lack of 
technical capacity. Our greatest difficulty 
with the Negro troops in the World War 
came not primarily from a lack of technical 
capacity, but from psychological factors 
and from faulty leadership. 

The only limitation to be placed on the 
organization of Negro units should be 
that accomplished by a "strict main- 
tenance of equality between the qualifi- 
cations" required for Negroes and whites 
in similar units. 72 The Personnel Divi- 
sion withheld its concurrence on differ- 
ent grounds. G-i felt that under the 
action recommended by G-3, proper ra- 
cial proportions could not be main- 
tained. G— 1 believed that each arm and 
service should take as its share of Negroes 
approximately 9 percent of its total 
strength and that a proper proportion of 
this percentage should be placed in 
front-line units so that "the negro man- 
power of the country may bear its pro- 
portionate losses in the event of war." 
This could be accomplished, G-i be- 
lieved, only by the assignment of "some 
Negro regiments of infantry and field 
artillery to our infantry divisions." It 
recommended that this be done, since 
the assignment of Negro units to the 
GHQ Reserve would fail to meet the de- 
sired requirements in the peacetime Reg- 



ular Army or under the mobilization 
plan. 73 

In support of its proposals G-3 cited 
the stands taken by the chiefs of the Air 
and Signal Corps. The Chief of the 
Air Corps had indicated that no air 
units, combat or service, could employ 
Negroes. The Chief of the Air Corps 
went on to say that when the Air Corps 
expansion bill was before Congress, the 
matter was studied intensively. The bill 
was so worded that the Civil Aeronautics 
Authority (CAA) was allotted responsi- 
bility for the training of Negro pilots, 
and the Secretary of War had adopted a 
policy that Negro pilots would not be 
trained by the Air Corps but by the CAA 
at one of the schools used by the Air 
Corps. Negro pilots, the Chief of the Air 
Corps continued, could not be used by 
"our present Air Corps units" since this 
would result in the "impossible social 
problem" of having Negro officers serv- 
ing over white enlisted men; and 
to organize an all-Negro air corps unit 
would take several years in order to train 
the necessary enlisted men as competent 
mechanics. 74 

The Signal Corps believed that "it 
would be difficult to obtain properly 
qualified personnel, or personnel who 
could be properly trained for duty with 
and function efficiently in units such as 
Signal Battalions, Signal Companies, 
Signal Troops and Signal Service Com- 
panies." The Signal Corps was willing 
to consider an exception in the event 
that "a Negro Division is ever organ- 
ized." Even then, it felt, it would be 
difficult to obtain properly qualified men 



72 Memo, WPD for G— 3, 29 Jun 40, Tab H to 
G-3/654 1 -5S7- 



"Memo, G-i for G— 3, 20 Jun 40, G— 1/146515. 
"Memo, CofAC foi G-3, 31 May 40, Tab E to 
G-3/654i-Gen- 5 s>7. 



48 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



such as radio electricians, telephone tech- 
nicians, and radio operators. 75 

G-3 felt that further explanation was 
unnecessary. It did not concur with 
G-l's proposal that Negro regiments of 
infantry and artillery be assigned to 
white divisions because that would mean 
the replacement of corresponding white 
units in each active division of the Reg- 
ular Army and the National Guard. If 
new divisions were organized with a por- 
tion of their infantry and artillery com- 
posed of Negroes, G-3 said, "Not only 
would the training time of a mixed 
division be much longer but the relative 
combat efficiency of white and negro 
units might vary to such an extent as to 
affect adversely tactical operations." 
Moreover, G-3 continued, there was 
nothing to prevent a theater of opera- 
tions commander from attaching sepa- 
rate Negro regiments to divisions for 
combat operations if he should so de- 
sire; this would be quite different from 
requiring him to accept a mixed division 
with "doubtful combat efficiency." 
Only the authorization of all-Negro divi- 
sions, G-3 concluded, would assure the 
Negro's sharing of proportionate battle 
casualties. Such an authorization G-3 
did not advocate. 

On the Threshold of Mobilization 

The plans of 1937 and 1940 indicate 
not only the tenor but also the range of 
thinking within the War Department on 
the subject of the employment of Negro 
troops in a national emergency. De- 
spite the 1937 provision that information 
on Negro troops should be disseminated 



"Memo, OCSigO for G-3, 28 May 40, OCSigO- 
320.2-Gen. 



in the same manner as information on 
other Army policies, little general 
knowledge of the Army's plans spread 
beyond the confines of the Mobilization 
Regulations to either the military as a 
whole or to the public at all. This was 
unfortunate, for up to the beginning of 
World War II the impression was widely 
held that the Army probably had no con- 
crete plans for the use of Negro troops 
other than a grudging admission that in 
time of war they would be useful pri- 
marily as laborers and that they must 
be kept completely segregated from 
white troops. That any thinking had 
been done on such questions as the types 
and sizes of units, methods of employ- 
ment of Negro troops, or the provision of 
opportunities for Negroes as specialists 
and in positions of leadership was gen- 
erally unknown. 

Much of the public agitation and 
questioning of the Army's purposes in 
regard to the use of Negro troops might 
have been avoided by full and frank dis- 
cussion of the question in the years be- 
fore the emergency had built itself to 
the high point of the summer of 1940. 
Because so little of what the Army was 
planning was known, racial and political 
pressure groups were unable to make 
concrete proposals which might have 
benefited their own interests as well as 
those of the Army and the nation. Of 
the Army's plans the public knew noth- 
ing except what it could infer from small 
bits of information and a few examples 
of official action. These, when added 
together, appeared to Negroes less than 
encouraging so far as full and equitable 
use of Negro manpower was concerned. 
The fulfillment of predictions concern- 
ing the effects of political and racial 
pressure, concerning the difficulties in- 



PEACETIME PRACTICES AND PLANS 



49 



herent in any plan which did not pro- 
vide for a racially balanced Army from 
the beginning of expansion, and con- 
cerning the relative difficulties of main- 
taining a fair and workable balance 
among types of Negro units might also 
have been avoided had the Army's own 
personnel been aware of the thinking 
and reasoning behind the policy on Ne- 
gro troop utilization. Instead, the Army's 
officers, as a whole, were relatively un- 
familiar with much of the reasoning be- 
hind the policies. Many were unfamil- 
iar with the policies as a whole or in 
significant part. Proposals from indi- 
vidual commanders and staff agencies, 
many of which had already been con- 
sidered and discarded, made their ap- 
pearance periodically during the early 
period of preparations for national de- 
fense. Many of the existing policies 
were misinterpreted, ignored, or side- 
tracked, usually because of lack of fa- 
miliarity with the whole fabric of which 
specific directives formed only individ- 
ual threads. Only if the general trends 
of high level thinking had been known 
could this have been avoided. 

It should be kept in view also that 
the Army, in its employment of Negro 
troops, did not consider itself a free 
agent, psychologically, politically, or in 
any other sense. Aside from influences 
of personal feelings, neither all agencies 
of the War Department nor all field com- 
mands were at any one time fully agreed 
on the merits of current policies on the 
use of Negro manpower. Though there 
were many inside and outside the 
Army and the War Department who felt 
that there was much that could be done 
within the Army to provide for a fuller 
use of Negro manpower, the War Depart- 
ment itself took the position that it was 



operating within a social framework 
which it did not create and which it did 
not have the power to alter in any 
significant manner. As G-i expressed 
it in 1939, and as other agencies echoed 
it throughout the war: 

The War Department has given serious 
thought to questions involving the induc- 
tion of Negroes into the military service. 
However, the War Department is not an 
agency which can solve national questions 
relating to the social or economic position 
of the various racial groups composing our 
Nation. The War Department administers 
the laws affecting the military establish- 
ment; it cannot act outside the law, nor 
contrary to the will of the majority of the 
citizens of the Nation.™ 

In general, the position of the War 
Department on the subject of the uti- 
lization of Negro troops in the summer 
of 1940— on the eve of the beginning of 
the greatest expansion which the Army 
of the United States had known— may be 
summarized briefly as follows: 

1. Negroes would be mobilized in 
proportions equal to their representa- 
tion in the nation's manpower of mili- 
tary age. Preferably, they should be 
mobilized early, both to allow numbers 
to be built up to and maintained at a 
percentage level approximating 9 plus 
percent, and to provide earlier training, 
since adequate training might take a 
longer period than normal. 

2. Negroes would be utilized in both 
arms and services and in all types of units 
for which they could qualify. Combat 
arms assignments for Negroes should be 
in the same ratio as for whites. Full 
agreement on their use in all arms and 
services had not been reached among 
staff agencies or by the chiefs of all 

70 Memo, G-i for Public Relations Bureau G-a, 
11 Oct 39, G-1/15640-1 1. 



50 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



arms and services, but a strong stand 
on their proportionate use in all 
branches had been taken by the Person- 
nel Division. 

3. Negroes would be utilized in units 
with all-Negro enlisted personnel, but 
these units did not need to be employed 
separately. A strong group believed that 
Negro units should be kept small and 
used in attachment or assignment to 
larger white units. A less widely held 
view was that only as parts of otherwise 
white divisions could Negro combat 
units operate successfully and in a man- 
ner which would guarantee their sharing 
proportionately in battle losses and in 
battle credits. 

4. Officers for Negro units might be 
Negro or white. They were to be as- 
signed in 50 percent greater numbers 
than to similar types of white units. 
Negro officers were to be chosen and 
trained according to the same standards 
as white officers and, preferably, trained 
in the same schools. Negro officers were 
to serve only with Negro units and in 
overhead installations, and should com- 



mand Negro troops only. Specific units 
for which Negro officers were authorized 
would be designated. Initially, these 
would include only the Reserve and Na- 
tional Guard units and such service units 
as might be so designated. For that rea- 
son, most Negro units in the Protection 
Mobilization Plan were designated 
"Regular Army— Inactive." 

5. In their utilization, Negro troops 
were to be trained, officered, quartered, 
clothed, and provided with all facilities 
in the same manner as white troops. 

In the working out of these plans, 
many apparently minor points arose 
which grew into major ones. Though 
the plans were well-laid, much inter- 
vened between planning and execution. 
Some of the causes and results of the 
difficulties and the successes encountered 
in the attempt to transfer plans to action 
will be discussed in succeeding chapters. 
Vestigial remains of many of the alter- 
nate plans reviewed here will be seen 
in many of the proposals and changes 
made during the course of World War 
II. 



CHAPTER III 



The Negro Position Defined 



As the conflict which was to become 
World War II approached, Negroes 
asked with increasing frequency for the 
opportunity that they believed to be 
rightfully theirs in the first place: the op- 
portunity to participate in the defense of 
their country in the same manner and on 
the same basis and in the same services as 
other Americans. Not all Negroes were 
agreed on the details of this participa- 
tion. Some refused to compromise on 
anything short of complete integration 
into the armed forces without segrega- 
tion of any sort. Others were willing 
to accept varying measures of segrega- 
tion in the hope of achieving compen- 
satory advances in the form of additional 
opportunities for service, promotion, 
and status within a segregated system. 
All were agreed that at least some of 
the restrictions existing in the peace- 
time Army of 1939 should be relaxed. 

They had seen how the Navy, in the 
years between wars, had been able to 
eliminate almost all Negroes. They be- 
lieved that the Army had quietly ceased 
the combat training of the old Negro 
regiments. They entered the period of 
expanding national defense with the 
conviction that, left to its own devices, 
the Army, citing the Navy as precedent 
and using World War I as justification, 
might very well refuse to expand its 
Negro strength any more than it had to. 
Knowing little or nothing about exist- 
ing War Department plans for an emer- 



gency, Negroes were resolved to prevent 
the increase of restrictions and, through 
the use of every available means, to 
remove all limitations which operated 
to prevent the full employment of Negro 
manpower within the Army. 

By the late 1930's a steadily rising 
flow of queries on the subject of Negro 
employment in the Army came into the 
War Department from the National As- 
sociation for the Advancement of Col- 
ored People, newspapers and press 
associations, National Guard unit offi- 
cers, groups of World War I veterans, 
men wishing to enlist, and members of 
Congress inquiring on behalf of their 
constituents. Queries and protests about 
the use of Negro troops were normally 
answered by the War Department until 
1940 in a routine and noncommittal 
manner, according to "precedent letters" 
similar to those employed for answering 
general correspondence on many other 
subjects. Such letters, usually prepared 
by staff agencies and approved by the 
Office of the Secretary of War or by the 
Office of the Chief of Staff, were de- 
posited with The Adjutant General, who 
could then use them as a basis for an- 
swering similar letters on the same sub- 
ject. In the area of Negro queries, the 
answers summarize the Army's position 
on several basic questions, but usually 
they did not give detailed or specific an- 
swers to direct questions. 

If the correspondent questioned the 



52 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



restrictions placed on Negro enlistments 
by virtue of the small number of Negro 
units maintained or by reason of the 
organization of Army units by race, the 
reply was likely to read: 

In time of peace the Army must be so 
organized as to assure a balanced force, 
containing, in the proper proportions, ele- 
ments of all arms and services, and capable 
of rapid and orderly expansion in time of 
war without major changes in the basic 
peacetime organization. Consequently, it 
is necessary to set up specific units to which 
colored personnel may be assigned, and 
these organizations must have a definite 
and proper place in the balanced force 
organizations of the Army as a whole. 
These organizations now include units of 
the infantry, cavalry, quartermaster corps, 
and medical corps. They meet our peace- 
time requirements, and provide the neces- 
sary nucleus for war-time expansion. 1 

If the correspondent became insistent 
and requested further information or 
presented an argument for a change in 
policy, his letter was simply acknowl- 
edged, or he might be told: 

Your remarks and the contents of the 
accompanying paper have been carefully 
noted. However, under a long established 
rule the War Department refrains from 
participation in controversial discussions 
arising from time to time in connection 
with articles appearing in the press, or 
statements made by public speakers or de- 
baters, when the activities of the Army or 
its personnel are subjected to criticism. 2 

By 1940, correspondence on the policy 
toward the use of Negro manpower had 

^tr, TAG to Charles E. Russell, Chairman 
Inter-Racial Committee of the District of Colum- 
bia (NAACP) , 30 Oct 39, AG 291.21 (10-19-39). 

2 Ltr, TAG to Charles E. Russell, 28 Jul 40, AG 
291.21 (6-7-40). See also Ltrs, TAG to Handsel 
G. Bell, various dates, AG 2gi.2i (4-18-39); TAG 
to Levi Pierce, various dates, AG 291.21 (10-10- 
39) ; TAG to various persons and organizations, 
AG 322.97 (2-23-38) (1) . 



become so heavy that The Adjutant 
General provided duplicated form let- 
ters for replies. Addresses and, when 
required, additional pertinent materials 
might be typed on these. 

Congressmen, newspapers, organiza- 
tions, and individuals receiving the War 
Department's form letter replies often 
concluded that no actual plans existed 
for the use of Negro troops other than 
those dictated by expediency. The pre- 
cedent letters helped to convince corres- 
pondents that there was scant hope of 
promoting the cause of the Negro by ap- 
pealing to the War Department di- 
rectly. The natural alternative was 
public agitation that would stir the 
President and Congress into action. 
Thus a succession of public campaigns 
on the question of the employment of 
Negro troops gained in momentum and 
support as the need for national defense 
projects became more widely accepted. 

Beginning Campaigns 

In 1938, the Pittsburgh Courier, then 
the largest and one of the most influen- 
tial Negro papers of national circulation, 
opened a campaign for the extension of 
opportunities for Negroes in the military 
services. The paper published an open 
letter to President Roosevelt, organized 
a Committee for Negro Participation in 
the National Defense, and encouraged its 
readers to send letters, telegrams, and 
delegations to congressmen and other 
national political leaders asking for an 
opinion on the wisdom of forming an 
all-Negro division in the peacetime 
Army. Many of these letters, especially 
those to congressmen, were forwarded to 
the War Department for information. As 
the campaign spread to other papers and 



THE NEGRO POSITION DEFINED 



53 



to local organizations, similar letters ar- 
rived from other sources. 14 This cam- 
paign was well organized and well pub- 
licized. Quantities of correspondence 
poured into the War Department. 
When the department did not commit 
itself the Negro press, having obtained no 
positive information, became even more 
cynical and critical. 

In the late thirties various other agen- 
cies and organizations interested in Ne- 
gro affairs became aware of the problem 
of the Negro in the armed forces. A 1939 
conference of the National Youth Ad- 
ministration (NYA) on the problems of 
the Negro and Negro youth, in addition 
to requesting the further extension of 
educational and vocational opportunities 
which had been stressed throughout the 
thirties, made a number of other recom- 
mendations to the War Department: 
Funds for military training in land 
grant colleges should be allocated equi- 
tably to Negro and white youths. Edu- 
cational facilities provided by the 
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) 
should be increased so that Negroes 
might be trained "to take their places in 
the leadership of the Camps." Federally 
supported service schools such as West 
Point and Annapolis should be main- 
tained without discrimination in the ad- 
mission of students. Restrictions on en- 
listments in the armed services should 
be eliminated. Negroes should be in- 
cluded in the expansion of the air arm. 
Negro combat units should be used for 
other than custodial and personal serv- 
ices. And the President should appoint 
a commission charged with recommend- 
ing methods of "integration [of Ne- 



groes] into all the armed forces without 
segregation." 4 

Older organizations, such as the Fed- 
eral Council of Churches of Christ in 
America and the Southern Interracial 
Commission, joined with newer groups 
like the Council for Democracy and 
Fight for Freedom in expressing concern 
about the Negro in the armed forces. 
Most of the newer organizations were 
interested in solidifying public opinion 
on the side of the Western Powers. 
They could not proceed with their pub- 
lic appeals in the name of the preserva- 
tion of democracy, many of these 
organizations felt, while Negroes con- 
stantly reminded them of inequities ex- 
isting at home. Fight for Freedom, 
whose board of sponsors included Sen- 
ator Carter Glass, Mrs. Calvin Coolidge, 
and James H. Hubert, secretary of the 
New York Urban League, issued a state- 
ment reading in part: "During the past 
war we made brave promises of inter- 
racial justice— after the war would be 
over. The promises were forgotten. 
Today we must prove as we march 
towards war that we mean to advance 
freedom for ALL men here in America." 
The Council for Democracy, whose 
board included Ernest Angell, Fred Bart- 
lett, Abraham Flexner, Robert Littell, 
and Leon M. Birkhead, published a 
pamphlet, The Negro and Defense: A 
Test of Democracy, which contained sim- 
ilar ideas. The interest of these and 
other civilian groups was not limited to 
the War Department but extended to 
three other federal agencies that had 
loose ties with the Military Establish- 
ment. 



S AG 322.99 {2-23-38) (1); Pittsburgh Courier, 
February 19, 1938 to September 28, J 940. 



4 Forwarded by Administrator of NYA to SW, 
2 Mar 39, AG 291.2 {3-2-39). 



54 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



The Civilian Conservation Corps, 
a depression-born agency originally 
planned as a relief measure for unem- 
ployed youths, developed into a major 
youth training program in the late thir- 
ties. It did not provide military train- 
ing, but its campers were supervised and 
served by military personnel of the 
Officers' Reserve Corps. Between April 
1933 and June 1940 approximately 300,- 
000 Negro youths went through CCC 
camps. 5 While Negroes were underrep- 
resented in the CCC on the basis of 
relative needs, after 1936 the 9 to 10 
percent of Negroes in the total enroll- 
ment of the camps represented approxi- 
mately their percentage in the single 
male population in the 15— 24-year age 
group. 6 

In the summer of 1937, the War De- 
partment noted that, out of a total of 
1,849 CCC companies, 167 were Negro. 
Two of these, at Gettysburg, Pa., and El- 
mira, N.Y., were officered in line and 
staff by Negro Reserve officers. Thirty- 
three medical officers and eight chaplains 
in the CCC at that time were Negroes. 7 
Negro educational advisers were em- 
ployed in the all-Negro camps. In June 
1940 approximately 30,000 Negroes were 
in the 151 all-Negro and the 71 mixed 
camps, most of the latter being in New 
England and the Middle West. 8 

While the CCC was administered in 
a manner that carefully avoided giving 

■ Edgar G. Brown, What the Civilian Conserva- 
tion Corps Is Doing for Colored Youth (Washing- 
ton: Federal Security Agency, Civilian Conserva- 
tion Corps, June, 1940) , p. t. 

8 Richard Sterner and others, The Negro's Share: 
A Study of Income, Consumption, Housing and 
Public Assistance (New York: Harper & Brothers, 

'943) • PP- * 56-58- 

7 Memo, G— 3 for SGS, 14 Jul 37, AG 388.97 

(7-7-37) (»)• 

8 Brown, op. cit., p. 1. 



the impression that these camps had any 
direct relation to military service, the 
educational, vocational, health, and 
group-living training of the youths con- 
cerned, and especially of the Negro 
youths, was considered by many to be of 
tremendous value to the nation as a 
whole. Criticism of the CCC for not giv- 
ing greater opportunities for the develop- 
ment of Negro administrative leadership 
began to appear in the pre- Pearl Harbor 
years. By 1939, as indicated in the 
recommendation of the NYA conference 
mentioned above, the relation of these 
camps to the development of latent 
leadership qualities was widely recog- 
nized. 9 

The National Youth Administration 
helped train mechanics and technical 
specialists both for use in defense indus- 
tries and for possible use in the armed 
forces. NYA training was superim- 
posed upon courses which had been de- 
veloped during the Great Depression. 
There was little complaint about these 
courses, for they generally provided op- 
portunities for Negro students in most 
fields of training. The major complaint 
was that the courses alone were not 
enough. 10 

The third of the agencies whose ac- 
tivities were looked upon as vital to the 
interests of Negro participation in na- 
tional defense was the Civil Aeronautics 
Authority (CAA) , which in 1939 began 
to give pilot training to students in co- 
operation with colleges and a few private 
airfields. This program was begun as 
part of an effort to increase the air- 
mindedness as well as the practical 
aviation training of American youth. 

»Cf., The Crisis, XLVII (November, 1940), 343. 
10 Cf., James L, H. Peck, "When Do We Fly?" 
The Crisis, LXVII (December, 1940) . 



THE NEGRO POSITION DEFINED 



55 



Initially, no provision was made for the 
specific inclusion of Negro trainees. 
Since no courses were given in co-opera- 
tion with Negro schools or colleges and 
few Negroes were enrolled in schools 
that had courses, there was no significant 
Negro participation. This situation 
brought about the first of a series of 
legislative enactments designed to clar- 
ify and increase the military training 
opportunities for Negroes. 

The Air Corps and Public Law 18 

In March 1939, while debating a bill 
to expand the nation's defense program, 
the Congress incorporated into the bill 
an amendment proposed by Senator 
Harry H. Schwartz of Wyoming. This 
amendment provided that, from among 
the civilian aviation schools to which 
the Secretary of War was authorized to 
lend equipment for aviation training, 
one or more should be designated by the 
Civil Aeronautics Authority for the 
training of Negro pilots. An earlier 
amendment had been presented to the 
Clerk of the Senate by Senator Styles 
Bridges of New Hampshire. When the 
Schwartz amendment was presented 
from the floor, Senator Bridges offered 
his own amendment as a substitute. It 
provided "That the Secretary of War is 
specifically authorized to establish at 
appropriate Negro colleges identical 
equipment, instruction, and facilities for 
training Negro air pilots, mechanics, and 
others for service in the United States 
Regular Army as is now available in the 
Air Corps Training Center." 11 This 
additional amendment failed to pass, but 



11 Congressional Record, March 7, 1939, pp. 2367- 
70. 



it is illustrative of the type of legislation 
which had support in many quarters. 
By some members of Congress, it was 
discussed and voted upon as though it 
would accomplish the same ends as 
the Schwartz amendment which was 
adopted. Both amendments were di- 
rect outgrowths of a campaign for admis- 
sion of Negroes to the Air Corps. This 
campaign was the most widespread, 
persistent, and widely publicized of all 
the prewar public pressure campaigns 
affecting the Negro and the Army. 

Negroes had been attempting to gain 
entrance to the Air Corps since World 
War I. In 1917, when they tried to en- 
list in the Air Service of the Signal 
Corps, they received the answer that no 
colored aero squadrons were being 
formed "at the present time." Applica- 
tions for that branch therefore could not 
be received; but, if, "later on," it was de- 
cided to form colored squadrons, recruit- 
ing officers would be notified to that 
effect. 12 Requests for service as air ob- 
servers also were made during World 
War I. A plan was broached in the Of- 
fice of the Director of Military Aeronau- 
tics for the use of Negroes for fatigue and 
police duty at airfields to relieve regular 
men, but this was not looked upon with 
favor. 13 A few Negroes were in construc- 
tion companies of the Air Service, but 
none engaged in any form of flying or of 
aircraft maintenance. 14 

Early postwar requests for the estab- 
lishment of Negro air units of the Or- 

12 Ltr, OCSigO to Charles S. Darden, Los Angeles, 
Calif., 17 Aug 17, AAF 322.9 (Negro Det) . 

13 Memo, Chief Pers for Exec Office OCSigO, 7 
Aug 18, AAF 291.2A. 

" Ltr, OCAS to H. T. Douglas, Bridgeport, Conn., 
13 Nov 20, AAF 2gi.2; Ltr, CAS to AGO, 1st Ind 
to Ltr, Secy Maryland War Records Commission, 
15 Dec 22, AAF 322.3 Units A-i. 



56 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



ganized Reserves were considered 
"impossible" to grant on the ground that 
no Negro officers had previously held 
commissions in the Air Service and that, 
since no Negro air units existed, there 
was no justification for the appointment 
of Negroes as flying cadets. 15 In 1931, 
when existing Negro ground units were 
reduced to provide for the fifth incre- 
ment of the Air Corps expansion, critics 
pointed out that the only way to prevent 
the reduction from working an injustice 
would be to open the Air Corps to 
Negroes so that they might at least re- 
tain the over-all strength originally 
allotted to them. 16 To suggestions in 
this vein the War Department replied 
that from the beginning, the Air Corps 
"gathered in men of technical and me- 
chanical experience and ability. As a 
rule, the colored man has not been 
attracted to this field in the same way or 
to the same extent as the white man. 
Particularly is this so of aerial engineer- 
ing." So many applications from col- 
lege trained men were being received, 
the War Department added, that "many 
white applicants are being denied 
places." 17 To this the secretary of the 
NAACP answered: 

It is obvious that colored men cannot 
be attracted to the held of aviation "in 
the same way or to the same extent as the 
white man" when the door to that field is 
slammed in the colored man's face. . . . 
There are thousands of excellent colored 



1C 1st Ind, CAS to AGO, on Ltr, C. E. Mertin, 
Oakland, Calif., 39 Dec 22, AAF 326.6 ROTC. 

16 Ltr, Walter White, Secy NAACP, to Actg SW, 
1 Sep sji; Ltr, Robert R. Moton, Tuskegee In- 
stitute, to President Hoover, 18 Sep 31, and other 
papers in AG 620 (4-23-31) sec. 2B; Ltr, Walter 
White to CofS, 15 Sep 31, AG 320.3 (6-17-31) (1) 
sec. 1. 

17 Ltr, Actg CofS to Walter White, 21 Sep 31, 
AG 620 (4-23-31) sec. 2B, 



mechanics in the country and if the War 
Department did not prejudice the case by 
definitely excluding them, we feel sure that 
there would be no difficulty in finding and 
developing men with all the qualifications 
required of pilots, mechanics, and all the 
other functions included in the air serv- 
ice. 18 

Eight years later Senator Schwartz 
summed up the point of view of those 
who felt that legislation was the only 
guarantee of full Negro participation in 
the military defense of the nation when 
he remarked: 

Somebody may say, "There is no provi- 
sion in the bill now which would prevent 
a Negro receiving such training," but, Mr. 
President, I can only judge the future by 
the past. I believe the situation is such 
that unless we give this specific and affirma- 
tive recognition, possibly our qualified Ne- 
gro citizens will not have an opportunity 
to become air pilots. 19 

This argument for the inclusion of spe- 
cific references to Negroes in national de- 
fense bills was to arise frequently in 
succeeding months. It was to culminate 
in the provisions concerning race written 
into the Selective Training and Service 
Act of 1940. 

The Schwartz amendment was en- 
acted as a part of Public Law 18, 
effective 3 April 1939. 20 Its subsequent 



18 Ltr, Walter W T hite to Actg CofS, 25 Sep 31, AG 
620 (4-23-31) (1) sec. 2B. 

19 Congressional Record, March 7, 1939, p. 2367. 
According to Bureau of Census figures read into 
the Congressional Record, there were 123 licensed 
Negro commercial and student pilots in the 
country in 1937. Many of the licenses were not 
kept in force. 

E0 It was incorporated into Section 4 of H.R. 
37gi and, as approved, read: "The Secretary of 
War is authorized, in his discretion and under 
the rules, regulations, and limitations to be pre- 
scribed by him, to lend to accredited civilian 
aviation schools, one or more of which shall be 
designated by the Civil Aeronautics Authority for 



THE NEGRO POSITION DEFINED 



57 



history illustrates some of the many 
difficulties involved in legislation of this 
type. It also illustrates the influence 
which such legislation had on Army 
planning. 

When it became clear that the bill, 
including the Schwartz amendment, was 
likely to be approved by both Houses 
and signed by the President, there was 
some inclination within the Air Corps 
to believe that the amendment might 
make it necessary for the Air Corps to 
train Negro pilots and to form at least 
one Negro air unit. At the request of 
Brig. Gen. Barton K. Yount, chief of 
the Training Group of the Office of the 
Air Corps, the Air Plans Section pre- 
pared a plan for the training of Negro 
pilots and a Negro unit based on the as- 
sumption that it "will" be necessary for 
the Air Corps to proceed with such 
training. "However, further study of 
the act by several different individuals 
on the General Staff and in the C. A. A. 
has developed the belief that such steps 
will not be necessary," the chief of the 
Plans Section reported. 21 

As interpreted by the Air Plans Sec- 
tion, the bill merely authorized the 
Secretary of War to lend equipment to 
accredited civilian aviation schools at 
which personnel of the Military Estab- 



the training of any Negro air pilot, at which 
personnel of the Military Establishment are pur- 
suing a course of education and training pursuant 
to detail thereto under competent orders of the 
War Department, out of aircraft, aircraft parts, 
aeronautical equipment and accessories for the 
Air Corps, on hand and belonging to the Govern- 
ment, such articles as may appear to be required 
for instruction, training, and maintenance pur- 
poses." 

21 R&R, Chief Plans Sec to CofAC, 8 Apr 39, 
AAF 353.9-.1-A. Italics in original. This plan is 
described on page 64, below. 



lishment were pursuing a course under 
competent War Department orders. 
One or more of these schools would be 
designated by the CAA for the training 
of any Negro pilot. The CAA would 
name one of the schools which the Air 
Corps was to use for primary training. 
This school would offer Air Corps train- 
ing, and also civilian training. "The 
letter of the law would certainly be ful- 
filled, and it is believed that the spirit 
would also be fulfilled 100%. There 
is absolutely nothing that directs us to 
enlist negro flying cadets. The original 
intent was to use the C.A.A. and the 
matter crept into this bill thru misun- 
derstanding. By being left in, it assures 
the Negro of training at a school of such 
high standards that 'personnel of the 
Military Establishment are pursuing a 
course' there." 22 

General Yount agreed that all that 
was necessary under the law was for the 
Air Corps to request the CAA to desig- 
nate "one of our approved schools (Chi- 
cago, for example) where negroes may 
be trained under Civil Aeronautics Au- 
thority regulations and by the Civil Aer- 
onautics Authority." Still, he felt, the 
War Department, under its interpreta- 
tion of the law, might rule that Negro 
pilots must be enlisted as flying cadets 
and that they must be trained in the 
same manner as white pilots under the 
expansion program. In that case, CAA 
would probably have to designate one of 
"our approved schools" for Negro train- 
ing. After completing training at a ci- 
vilian school, Negro cadets could be sent 
to Randolph Field and later to Kelly 
Field. "It is possible that this would 



R&R cited n. 21, above. 



58 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



create a difficult situation although it 
could be taken care of," General Yount 
thought. 23 

But, once begun, the process of train- 
ing would not end here. The Air 
Corps' Reserve Division had already 
pointed out that, if a Negro flying cadet 
successfully completed training at the 
Air Corps Training Center, he "must 
reasonably be considered as being quali- 
fied" for a Reserve commission. While 
commissioning such a trainee was not 
mandatory under the law, "it would, at 
the same time, prove difficult, if not im- 
possible," to refuse such a commission. 24 
Once a Negro cadet was commissioned, 
General Yount felt, a demand, "backed 
by politics," would be made for the con- 
tinuation of his training. 25 

Continued training would be possible 
by assignment of Negro reservists to 
white units. In Yount's view this would 
be "ruinous to morale." One or more 
Negro Reserve or Regular Army units 
in which Negro Reserve officers could 
continue their training might be estab- 
lished. Neither funds nor estimates ex- 
isted for either type of unit. Either 
type, because of the time needed to train 
enlisted men, would have to have white 
senior officers, noncommissioned officers, 
and mechanical personnel. "This is not 
considered practicable," General Yount 
concluded. Reserve units, moreover, 
could be expected to multiply as Negroes 
in different parts of the country re- 
quested them. Therefore, General 
Yount recommended, the Air Corps 

23 R&R, OCofAC to Gen Arnold, 14 Apr 39 
AAF g5g.g-4-A. Italics in original. 

14 R&R, Chief Reserve Div OCofAC to Chief 
Trig Gp, 3 Apr 39, AAF 353.9-4-A Training of 
Negro Pilots. 

25 R&R, OCofAC to Gen Arnold, 14 Apr 39, 
AAF 353-9~4- A - 



should confine its action to a request for 
authorization to plan training in "one of 
our approved schools and under the 
jurisdiction of the Civil Aeronautics Au- 
thority." 26 His recommendation was 
approved by General Arnold, who then 
requested War Department approval. 27 

The Judge Advocate General, when 
asked for his opinion, more than agreed 
with the Air Corps. He further con- 
strued the act to contain a directive to 
the CAA only, with absolutely "no duty 
. . . imposed by such language on the 
War Department." The War Depart- 
ment nevertheless decided that, "in the 
present instance and notwithstanding 
such interpretation," it would be advis- 
able to co-operate with the CAA in carry- 
ing out "what appears to be" the intent 
of Congress. The Air Corps was there- 
fore directed to confer with the CAA to 
obtain its designation of an accredited 
civilian flying school and to agree upon 
the aircraft and equipment required. 28 

The Air Corps proceeded to follow 
the line of action approved by the War 
Department. General Yount conferred 
informally with Robert Hinckley, chair- 
man of the Civil Aeronautics Authority, 
who agreed to designate a school and 
train a number of Negro pilots under 
the CAA program. "Inasmuch as this 
may be discussed in the press and may 
cause some political repercussions . . . ," 
the Chief of the Air Corps wrote, "it is 
recommended that the entire subject be 
discussed with the Secretary of War in 
order that he may be thoroughly in- 
formed as to the War Department pro- 

M Ibid. 

27 Memo, CofAC for CofS, 18 Apr 39, AG 011 
{8-18-39), AAF 353.9-4-A. 

28 2d Ind to Memo, CofAC for CofS, 18 Apr 39, 
JAGO to TAG, 27 Apr 39, and 3d Ind, TAG to 
CofAC, 4 May 39. Both in AAF 353.9-4-A. 



THE NEGRO POSITION DEFINED 



59 



cedure in this case, i.e., 'The Civil 
Aeronautics Authority will train the ne- 
gro pilots in accordance with the pro- 
visions of H.R. 3791.' " 29 

Despite the cautious analysis of and 
approach to Public Law 18, the decision 
as reached was to cause continued mis- 
understanding and dissatisfaction. Ne- 
groes and many of the congressmen 
supporting the amendment had consid- 
ered that it ended once and for all the 
discussion of whether or not the Air 
Corps would train Negro pilots. 30 The 
Air Corps, seeking to explain its inter- 
pretation of the law, had prepared a 
letter to Senator Morris Sheppard, chair- 
man of the Senate Military Affairs Com- 
mittee. But before it was sent the 
Office of the Chief of Staff informed the 
Air Corps not only that "for the time 
being" the War Department would take 
no action in connection with the training 
of Negro pilots but also that "no more 
publicity will be given this matter than 
is absolutely essential." 31 In light of 



28 Memo, CofAC for CofS, 9 May 39, AAF 353.9- 
4-A. 

80 Statement, Edgar G. Brown, Hearings, Senate 
Subcommittee on Appropriations, Military Estab- 
lishment Bill for 1940 (H.R. 4630), pp. 152-53; State- 
ments, Edgar G. Brown, J. Finley Wilson, and 
Senator Harry H. Schwartz, Hearings, House Sub- 
committee on Appropriations, Supplemental Mili- 
tary Appropriation Bill, 1940 (H.R. 6^91), pp. 
339-44; Senator Styles Bridges in debate on H.R. 
7805, 25 Jan 40, Congressional Record, 86, p. 671; 
Debate, Military Establishment Bill for 1941 (H.R. 
9209), Congressional Record, 86, pp. 4017-19; State- 
ment, Rayford Logan, 14 May 40, Hearings, Senate 
Subcommittee on Appropriations, Military Estab- 
lishment Appropriation Bill for 1941 (H.R. 
9209), pp. 365-76; Senator Styles Bridges, dis- 
cussion and questions, 14 May 40, Hearings, above, 
p. 368. 

81 Memo, SGS for CofAC, 16 May 39, AAF 353.9- 
4-A. 



these directions, the prepared letter was 
not sent. 32 

Informing the Senate committee was 
nevertheless necessary, General Arnold 
thought. Senator Schwartz had visited 
him and General Yount with urgent de- 
mands that training for Negro pilots be 
initiated. Representatives of Negro or- 
ganizations had "called and expressed 
an opinion that they will continue to 
agitate in Congress for the passage of 
additional legislation if something def- 
inite is not done for pilot training for 
their race in the very near future." In- 
forming Senator Sheppard of the pro- 
posed plan "may do much to allay this 
agitation," General Arnold felt. 33 On 
25 May he took the matter up person- 
ally. 34 As a result, a suggested letter 
went to Secretary Woodring for his sig- 
nature. But this letter was lost or 
mislaid and a substitute was not sent for- 
ward until 10 June. 35 The letter was 
dispatched to Senator Sheppard on 12 
June, too late to accomplish its original 
purpose, for in the meantime the hear- 
ings on H.R. 6791, the Supplemental 
Military Appropriation Bill for 1940 
providing funds for the Air Corps 
expansion program, had produced testi- 
mony that further convinced congress- 
men and the public that the Air Corps, 
under Public Law 18, was going to train 
Negro pilots. 

Senator Schwartz, on 26 May, had 
told the committee of his conviction that 



1,2 R&R, Chief Tng and Opns Div for CofAC, 
22 May 39, AAF 353.9-4-A. 

33 Memo, CofAC for CofS, 24 May, 39, AAF 
353.9-4-A; Statement, Senator Schwartz, Hearings, 
House Subcommittee, Supplemental Military Ap- 
propriation Bill, 1940, 26 May 1939, pp. 342-43. 

31 Penciled note on R&R, AAF 353.9-4-A. 

* Memo, CofAC for CofS, 10 Jun 39, AAF 353.9- 
4-A. 



60 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



the appropriation bill required an 
amendment providing a specific amount 
for training Negro pilots. Both Gen- 
eral Yount and General Arnold had told 
the Senator that they were encountering 
difficulties in carrying out the provisions 
of the existing act. "Of course," the 
Senator said, "you understand the same 
as I do, whether we want to admit it or 
not, that back under this is a feeling in 
the Army and in the Navy that bringing 
these Negro pilots and giving them this 
opportunity will result in some embar- 
rassment one way or another on account 
of social or economic conditions." He 
indicated that General Arnold had told 
him that the Air Corps, "without trou- 
ble," could give Negro pilots training for 
ninety days at a civilian school, ninety 
days at Randolph Field, and ninety days 
at Kelly Field, with the Randolph Field 
phase probably added to a civilian 
school. The Kelly Field phase, where 
"they are flying in squadrons," would 
be more difficult, but the War Depart- 
ment could handle this. "I hope the 
committee will amend the bill because I 
do think the War Department needs a 
little urging," Senator Schwartz contin- 
ued. 36 Similar proposals for specific 
sums to be earmarked for the training 
of Negro pilots were made by Negro 
witnesses. 37 

Representative D. Lane Powers of 
New Jersey sought to determine the 
need for legislation earmarking special 
funds for this purpose. On 5 June he 
asked Secretary of War Harry H. Wood- 
ring if, under Public Law 18, one or 
more schools would be designated for 
Negro pilot training. Secretary Wood- 

M Hearings, House, Supplemental Military Ap- 
propriation Bill, 1940, (H.R. 6y$i), pp. 342-44. 
'"Ibid., pp. 339-42. 



ring, who had not yet received the draft 
letter to Senator Sheppard, replied that 
the matter was being considered. "We 
are trying to work this out in fairness to 
those colored people who are rightfully 
entitled to this training. We are going 
to try to work this out honestly in the 
interests of every citizen of the United 
States," the Secretary said. 38 "You are 
definitely going to train some Negro 
pilots, are you not?" Powers asked. 
Woodring replied, "We are planning to 
do so." 38 

To further questions the Secretary 
continued to answer in the affirmative. 
Though he did not say specifically that 
the War Department itself was going to 
train or use Negro pilots, the impression 
was left that the Secretary had commit- 
ted the Army to a program of training 
and using Negro pilots, trained in the 
primary phase at a civilian school, from 
which they would go into military train- 
ing. This impression had been height- 
ened by the general understanding that, 
although CAA was to train primarily 
civilian pilots, these men would consti- 
tute a military reservoir from which the 
Travelling Flying Cadet Board could 
pick the best for further training. 40 

When the appropriations bill came to 
the floor of the House, Representative 
Louis Ludlow of Indiana proposed a 
new amendment providing that one mil- 
lion dollars of the eight million planned 
for expanding the training of military 
pilots be set aside for training Negro 
pilots. This would be "sheer justice," 
Ludlow said, for, if war comes, 



*>Ibid., p. 281. 
38 Ibid., p. 28a. 

10 Hearings, House and Senate, Training of Civil 
Aircraft Pilots, H.R. 5073, S. 2119, Senate Hearings, 
pp. 16-17, 86-87, House Hearings, pp. 14-15. 



THE NEGRO POSITION DEFINED 

Negroes will be conscripted on a wide- 
spread scale, and it is just as certain as 
anything in the future can be that a con- 
siderable proportion of Negroes with 
aviation training will be sent into air com- 
bat detachments. It would be positively 
cruel and inhumane to assign Negroes to 
the combat air service without giving them 
the means to protect themselves. The pro- 
tection to which they are entitled is a 
thorough course in combat air training, 
the same course that is given to white air 
pilots. . . . Now is the time to begin that 
training.* 1 

The Ludlow amendment passed the 
House but it did not remain in the bill. 

Nothing in the meantime happened in 
the training of Negro military pilots. 
In the fall of 1939 the CAA did estab- 
lish, under its own authority, Civilian 
Pilot Training (CPT) units at several 
Negro colleges, including Tuskegee, 
Howard, Hampton, West Virginia 
State, North Carolina Agricultural and 
Technical, and Delaware State. A few 
Negroes also enrolled in CPT courses 
at other colleges and universities in the 
North. During the first year of the 
CPT program, 100 Negro college stu- 
dents were given training; of these 91 
qualified for civil licenses— a record as 
good as that of white students, a national 
magazine remarked. 42 The CAA also 
announced the designation of the North 
Suburban Flying School at Glenview, 
111., as the school required by Public Law 
18, but no Negroes were sent to this 
school, though new barracks had been 
built there and white flying cadet classes 

a Congressional Record, June gi, 1939, p. 7667. 
This amendment, according to Representative Lud- 
low, was sponsored by, among others, the follow- 
ing Negro organizations: United Government 
Employees, National Alliance of Postal Employees, 
National Airmen's Association, and the Elks Civil 
Liberties League. 

42 Time, October 28, 1940, p, 19. 



61 

were being sent there. To the contin- 
uing requests for information on train- 
ing Negroes for duties with the Air 
Corps, the War Department had a stand- 
ard answer— a variation on what had 
become a familiar theme to the more 
persistent inquirers: 

It has long been a policy of the War De- 
partment not to mix colored and white 
enlisted men in the same tactical organiza- 
tion and, since no provision has been made 
for any colored Air Corps units in the 
Army, colored persons are not eligible for 
enlistment in the Air Corps. 43 

The general public impression that 
there was a connection between the CAA 
program and the opening of the Air 
Corps to Negro flying cadets and en- 
listed men meanwhile continued. The 
actual participation of Negroes in the 
CPT program did not allay agitation for 
full participation in Air Corps training; 
rather, it increased the range of such 
agitation. The refusal of cadet boards 
to consider the applications of Negroes 
who were successful participants in the 
college program gave further leverage 
to the campaign. 

Nor was the legal interpretation of 
Public Law 18 clearly understood. In 
January 1940, during the debate on the 
supplemental appropriations bill, 44 Sen- 
ator Bridges sought to discover the status 
of flying training for Negroes. Read- 
ing from a letter in which the War De- 
partment returned a Negro's application 
for flying cadet training because "there 
are no units composed of colored men," 



43 Ltr, TAG to Representative William H. Lar- 
rabee (Indiana), 21 Dec 39, AG 291.21 (12-12-39). 

"H.R. 7805, Supplemental Appropriation for the 
Military and Naval Establishments, Coast Guard, 
and Federal Bureau of Investigation for the Year 
Ending June )o, 1940. 



62 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Senator Bridges declared, referring to 
Public Law 18: 

I find that that provision of the law was 
not carried out. ... I think that is a rather 
serious thing. I am in sympathy with these 
appropriations and the general purpose of 
this bill for the national defense; but I 
should like to have it a matter of official 
record that the law was passed. It was 
passed, I assume, by Congress in good faith 
to provide training for the colored men of 
this country who desire to participate and 
secure training as aviators in the United 
States Army; and apparently the law today 
has been ignored. 

Turning to Senator Elbert Thomas, Sen- 
ator Bridges asked ". . . has the Senator 
any suggestion as to just how Congress 
should go about seeing that the law is 
carried out?" 

Similar questions about Public Law 
18 arose from time to time in commit- 
tees and on the floors of both Houses. 
Most of the answers given left the im- 
pression that the CAA program was ini- 
tiating training which would be contin- 
ued by the Army once enough pilots and 
mechanics had obtained rudimentary 
training. In March the Chief of the 
Air Corps, Maj. Gen. Henry H. Arnold, 
informed the House committee on ap- 
propriations that he felt that the Chicago 
school would take care of the matter of 
training Negro pilots. 45 The Chief of 
Staff, General George C. Marshall, on at 
least two occasions left a similar impres- 
sion with committee members. On one 
of these, after explaining that "there is 
no such thing as colored aviation at the 
present time" but that the CAA was the 
proper place to begin it, the general was 



45 Hearings, House Subcommittee on Appropria- 
tions, Military Establishment Appropriation Bill 
for 1941, 76th Cong., 3d sess., March 7, 1940, p. 
549' 



asked by Representative Ludlow, "So 
you expect to give reasonable considera- 
tion to the Negro in that respect?" 
Marshall replied, "We are doing that 
right now." 46 It was implied by the 
White House and so interpreted to the 
Negro public that the War Department 
would accelerate and expand CAA train- 
ing and that, when enough specialists 
and pilots were available, Air Corps 
units composed of Negroes would be 
organized. 47 Delays at Glenview were 
explained by the difficulty of obtaining 
the twenty qualified students needed to 
begin instruction. 48 

The completion of CPT courses by 
the first Negroes naturally raised the 
question of what the next step in their 
training and use would be. The Air 
Corps and the Army were developing 
their own internal approach to the ques- 
tion. Despite the general statements of 
the impossibility of forming Negro air 
units, within the General Staff there was 
strong minority opinion that all 
branches, including the Air and Signal 
Corps, should be required to absorb 
their proportionate share of Negro en- 
listed men in time of war. The ques- 
tion was: how could this be done in the 
Air Corps while maintaining racial sep- 
aration? 

In the Air Corps, traditional officer- 
enlisted men relationships had been up- 



46 Hearings, House Committee on Appropriations, 
sd Supplementary National Defense Bill for 1941, 
July 21, 1940, p. 133; see also Hearings, Senate Com- 
mittee on Appropriations, 2d Supplementary Na- 
tional Defense Bill for ipfi (H.R. 1026}), August 5, 
1940, pp. 17-18. 

" Time, October 28, 1940, p. 19; Ltr, Col Edwin 
M. Watson, Secy to President, to Walter White, 
Secy NAACP, The Crisis, LXVII (December, 1940), 
pp. 376-77. 

48 Memo, CofAC for CofS, 25 May 40, AAF 
353-9-4- A - 



THE NEGRO POSITION DEFINED 



63 



set by the appearance of the pilot-officer 
who had to work with enlisted men who 
might not be under his command at all. 
A pilot's plane might be serviced by 
enlisted men who were members of a 
base squadron on an airfield several hun- 
dred miles from his home station. He 
might have to work with men of a 
strange weather unit or operations sec- 
tion. Visions of wholesale breaches of 
the codes of interracial etiquette arose 
whenever it was considered that a Negro 
pilot might be forced to land at a strange 
airfield for an overnight stay. 

As great a quandary was created by 
the question of making use of existing 
facilities to train Negro pilots and en- 
listed men for whom neither units nor a 
body of experience capable of forming 
initial units and ground crews was 
available. Recognition of the cost and 
unwieldiness of duplicating training fa- 
cilities in a service in which complete 
separation of the races was unlikely led 
to the suggestion that the Air Corps 
might make a departure from Army prac- 
tices and train Negro and white airmen 
together. "The training of white and 
negro pilots in the same unit is out of the 
question," G— 3 answered. "The idea 
of mixed units does not prevail among 
the educated negroes, who were mem- 
bers of a committee which met with 
C. A. A. and Army members to make 
arrangements for the course of instruc- 
tion at the Chicago School of Aeronaut- 
ics, as they favor the idea of colored 
units." 49 On the other hand, in face of 
the Air Corps' opposition, the provision 
of separate units for Negroes seemed 
unlikely. "There are no type units, 
combat or service, for which it is recom- 

a Memo, G-3 for CofS, 5 Jun 40, AG 231.21 
(5-14-40) (1). 



mended that negro personnel be used 
. . . ," the Air Corps had informed G-3. 50 
Arguments against training Negro pilots 
included the scarcity of experienced Ne- 
groes in commercial aviation, the "lack 
of interest" of Negroes in aviation as 
evidenced by the number of private li- 
censes which they had allowed to lapse, 
the absence of Negro units in the air 
forces of other countries, and the time 
("several years") which would be 
needed to train enlisted men to become 
competent mechanics for use in ground 
crews of separate Negro units. Another 
potent argument was based on the fact 
that Negro pilots would make necessary 
a large increase in the number of Negro 
officers. Extracts from the testimony of 
World War I were cited to demonstrate 
that their superiors, their subordinates, 
and Negro officers themselves lacked con- 
fidence in their abilities. It was con- 
cluded that "the hazards of flying either 
in peace or war are such that the lack of 
confidence in any pilot of a combat unit 
not only creates timidity in the other 
pilots of the formation, but creates a 
mental hazard which in reality becomes 
a material hazard. Thus any such unit 
whether it is composed of white or ne- 
gro pilots is useless as a combat unit 
either in peace or war." 51 

This reasoning was not known to the 
Negro public in detail. Negroes sum- 
med up the Air Corps' position by simply 
asserting that the Air Corps had no in- 
tention of admitting that Negroes could 
fly and that it had less intention of being 
found in error by giving them the chance 
to prove that they could. Lack of op- 



ro Mcmo, CofAC for G-3, 31 May 40, Tab E, 
G-^/^i-Gm-^. 

Bl Memo, G-3 for CofS, 5 Jun 40, AG 291.21 
(5-14-40) (1). 



64 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



portunities for Negroes to find employ- 
ment in defense industries, especially in 
aircraft factories, was tied in with the 
protests. The Crisis used as the cover 
of its July 1940 issue a photograph of 
planes on an assembly line across which 
was printed: For Whites Only. The 
caption read: "War-planes— Negro Amer- 
icans may not build them, repair them, 
or fly them, but they must help pay for 
them." Varying the same theme, the 
magazine's December 1940 cover showed 
a training ship over a beautifully laid 
out field. This time the caption read: 
"For Whites Only— a U.S. Army Air 
Corps training plane over the 'West 
Point of the Air'— Randolph Field, 
Texas. Negroes are not being accepted 
and trained by the Army Air Corps at 
any field in the Nation, despite all the 
talk of national unity and of the urgency 
of every group serving in national de- 
fense." On the same cover the maga- 
zine headlined two protest articles, 
"When Do We Fly?" by James L. H. 
Peck and "Jim Crow in the Army 
Camps," by "A Negro Soldier." 52 



53 A third article, a laudatory "Salute" to Brig. 
Gen. Benjamin O. Davis with a biographical sketch 
of the first Negro general, appeared in the same 
issue. Similarly, the July issue had contained an 
account of a Negro youth in Chicago who, having 
applied for Air Corps training, had "not been 
turned down by mail" and an aeronautical engi- 
neer who had become a probationary employee 
at Douglas Aircraft in Los Angeles. "It is not 
known," the magazine commented, "what will be- 
come of the two men, but at least their initial 
efforts have not been rebuffed as in the past. 
However, there is as yet no indication that the 
vast national defense program of the United States 
will include the Negro as employees in factories, 
mechanics and helpers in the huge ground crews 
for airplanes, or by enlistment in all the branches 
of the armed forces." These articles illustrate the 
protest journals' anxiety to report achievement and 
progress as well as problems to their readers. The 
Crisis, LXVII (July, 1940), 199. 



Negro critics did not know that out of 
Public Law 18 had come, in 1939, a plan 
for the training of a Negro air unit. 
The plan forecast that, since there was 
no reservoir of Negro pilots and me- 
chanics, it would take "several years" 
before a Negro unit could be realized. 
Holding that "the training of pilots 
should present no special problem," the 
authors of the plan explained: 

It is believed that it would be fairly easy 
to obtain a small number of qualified 
candidates for as many classes as desired. 
It might be necessary and desirable to 
establish a special section or class at the 
Training Center lor those who survived 
the primary course. Specially qualified 
graduates could be sent to the Technical 
School for courses in engineering, arma- 
ment, photography, and communications, 
if desired. The training of negro pilots 
should be so timed that a negro unit would 
be available for their active duty. Like- 
wise, the training of negro enlisted men 
should present no great problem, as sep- 
arate classes could be held at the Technical 
Schools. The greatest difficulty would prob- 
ably be in getting the quality of enlisted 
men necessary for this technical training. 
A high school education would be de- 
sirable. 53 

According to this plan any type of 
unit could be organized, but from the 
point of view of complexity in mainte- 
nance and operation difficulties a single- 
engine unit was deemed best. This 
narrowed the choice to pursuit or obser- 
vation squadrons. A single pursuit 
squadron would have to fit into a group, 
but an observation squadron could be a 
comparatively independent unit. There- 
fore the latter was the recommended 
"initial unit." The process of forming 
the Negro unit would be gradual, with 

33 Memo, Chief AC Plans Sec for CofAC, 7 Apr 
39, AAF 353.9-4-A. 



THE NEGRO POSITION DEFINED 



65 



initial key supervisory and technical en- 
listed personnel white. White officer 
personnel would be necessary to start 
with, except for "plain piloting and ob- 
serving." As Negroes became profi- 
cient, they would move into responsible 
positions. It was nevertheless believed 
that at least three white officers should 
be left with the unit permanently. The 
unit should be Regular Army, for 
though the initial cost would then be 
higher, continuing costs would be less. 
If a Reserve or National Guard organi- 
zation was formed, "the probability of 
political demands for additional units 
would probably run the resulting cost to 
a much higher figure than shown for a 
single Regular Army unit." A practical 
problem was posed by the lack of an 
allotted unit which could be used. 
There were but two new observation 
squadrons planned for the expansion, 
one for Hawaii and one for Panama. 
Conversion of an existing unit was con- 
sidered inadvisable "as the services of 
the unit would be practically lost during 
the conversion period." The alterna- 
tive was to request funds and authoriza- 
tion for an additional unit, which, if an 
observation squadron, would cost nearly 
four and a half million dollars. A new 
station, probably near Chicago, was con- 
sidered desirable. 64 

This plan, while not used in 1939, was 
essentially the same as that which was 
put into operation in 1941. If the legis- 
lation of 1939 provided nothing else, it 
produced the first few Negro civilian 
pilot trainees and a plan which the Air 
Corps could employ later to initiate 
training of Negroes as military pilots. 



"Ibid. 



Subversives and Patriots 

By 1940 concern arose that, unless 
some assurances were given Negroes that 
they would have an opportunity to par- 
ticipate in the defense of the nation, 
subversive influences would find a fertile 
field for fifth column activities among a 
disaffected Negro population. A con- 
crete basis for this apprehension ap- 
peared to be demonstrated by the circu- 
lation of such articles as "Negro Yanks 
Ain't Coming Either— Remember 1917" 
which appeared in a New York commu- 
nist publication aimed primarily at a 
Negro audience; BB by the use of the Ne- 
gro issue in the isolationist press's attacks 
on the proposed selective service bill; by 
open criticism of such Negro leaders as 
A. Phillip Randolph, Walter White, and 
their organizations for being too conserv- 
ative and ineffective; and by the develop- 
ment of exotic Negro cults which held 
that the bearing of arms was against the 
tenets of their new-found faiths. 58 

Certain newspapers did not hesitate 
to use the Negro issue in their campaigns 
against American entrance into the war. 
The New York Daily News, for exam- 
ple, carried full-page pictures of the Ku 
Klux Klan and of Southern sharecrop- 
pers. The captions read, "Should We 
Fight to Save the World . . . While These 
Things Continue at Home?" and "Ne- 
groes have No Freedom of Speech, No 
Freedom From Terror in the South." 
"Tell your president, senators, and con- 
gressmen," the paper suggested to its 
readers, "that you want democracy to 
work properly at home before you fight 



55 The Review, February 1, 1940. 

56 Institute for Propaganda Analysis, "Negroes 
Ask about Democracy," Propaganda Analysis, IV 
(August 26, 1941). 



66 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



for it abroad." 57 In similar vein, iso- 
lationist magazines carried articles such 
as "Should Negroes Save Democracy?" 58 
In April 1940, at its annual meeting in 
Washington, the National Negro Con- 
gress, a loose federation of Negro groups 
organized in 1936, passed a resolution 
that if America ever went to war with 
the Soviet Union they would refuse to 
fight. "This is treason," Representative 
Robert G. Allen of Pennsylvania in- 
formed the House. 59 A. Phillip Ran- 
dolph, head of the Brotherhood of Sleep- 
ing Car Porters and twice president of 
the congress, refused re-election to a 
third term and then resigned from the 
organization, explaining that the con- 
gress, having accepted financial support 
from the Communist Party, had lost its 
independence and would lose all possi- 
bility of mass support from Negroes. 
"It seems to be beyond the realm of 
debate," he said, "that the Negro people 
cannot afford to add to the handicap of 
being black, the handicap of being 
'red.' " 60 After this, Representative 
Hamilton Fish of New York, a former 
officer of World War I's Negro 369th 
Infantry, declared that "gg 1 ^ percent of 



47 New York Daily News, June 4, 1941. 

68 E. E. Johnson, "Should Negroes Save Democ- 
racy?" Scribner's Commentator, XI (November, 
194.1), 57-62. For analyses see: Horace M. Bond, 
"Should the Negro Care Who Wins the War?" 
The Annals of the American Academy of Political 
and Social Science, CCXXIII (September, 1942), 
81-84; Adam C. Powell, Jr., "Is This a 'White 
Man's War?' " Common Sense, XI (April, 194a) , 
111-13. 

m Congressional Record, April 30, 1940, p. 5253. 

00 A. Phillip Randolph, "Why I Would Not 
Stand for Reelection for President of the National 
Negro Congress," quoted in Extract of Remarks, 
Representative Arthur W. Mitchell (111.) , Con- 
gressional Record, April 30, 1940, app. 2945. 



American Negroes are loyal American 
citizens." 01 

During 1940 and 1941, street corner 
and park speakers harangued crowds 
about the necessity of unity among the 
world's darker peoples, of whom the 
Japanese, as the most powerful, were 
the natural leaders. They played upon 
the latent anti-Semitism of Negro areas 
to show that Nazi Germany had reason 
and logic behind its racial policies. 
The British record of colonialism in Af- 
rica and the West Indies came in for its 
share of opprobrium. The old Univer- 
sal Negro Improvement Association 
(remnant of the Garvey Back-to-Africa 
Movement of the twenties) , the Ethio- 
pian Pacific Movement, the World Wide 
Friends of Africa, the Peace Movement 
of Ethiopia, the Brotherhood of Liberty 
for the Black People of America, the 
Development of Our Own, and various 
cult groups of "Moorish" and "Arabic" 
Negroes, some dating back thirty years 
with escapist members who denied their 
kinship to American Negroes and gave 
their allegiance to none but the crescent 
flag of Islam, all came under suspicion 
as foci of subversive infection. "You 
have no stake in the war," many of these 
cults' street speakers confided to their 
Negro audiences. "You will not be al- 
lowed to fight the Germans anyway— 
they're white; if you are sent to fight 
anyone it will be the Japanese, your 
colored darker brothers." 82 



w Congressional Record, April 30, 1940, p. 5254. 

62 Cf. Powell, op. cit.; Roi Ottley, "A White 
Folks' War?" Common Ground, II (Spring, 1942) , 
29; Lunabelle Wedlock, The Reaction of Negro 
Publications and Organizations to German Anti- 
Semitism (Washington: Howard University Studies 
in the Social Sciences) III, No. 2 (1942), 116-93; 
Alfred M. Lee, "Subversive Individuals of Minority 
Status," The Annals of the American Academy of 



THE NEGRO POSITION DEFINED 



67 



Although these organizations had few 
members, their activities were taken as 
signs that the traditional loyalty of Ne- 
groes might be weakening. Stafford 
King, Civilian Aide to the Secretary of 
War for the State of Minnesota, who had 
previously written to the War Depart- 
ment several times on the problems of 
CMTC and CAA training for Negroes in 
his state, now wrote: 

We are, if we can believe one-tenth of 
what we hear and read, facing the definite 
possibility of revolution from within or 
invasion from without, or both. A united 
people is the one and only defense against 
either of these contingencies. No subdi- 
vision of government should by arbitrary 
rule bar a whole class of citizens from vol- 
unteer service. There is no physical, moral 
or patriotic reason why the colored man, 
after passing the regular tests, should be 
denied enrollment in the regular army, the 
National Guard, the ROTC or the CMTC. 

I have no hesitance in suggesting to you, 
Sir, that if and when the colored men are 
so denied the volunteer service which is 
given to their white, yellow and brown 
brothers, they become easy prey to the 
smooth tongue of him who reminds them 
of their inequalities and promises that un- 
der some new type of government, Com- 
munist, Fascist, or Nazi, such inequalities 
will be erased. 63 

Newspaper columnists and Army of- 
ficers sounded the same warning. The 



Political and Social Science, CCXXIII (September, 
1942), 167-68; Louis Martin, "Fifth Column Among 
Negroes," Opportunity, XX (December, 1942) , 358- 
60; Roi Ottley, "New World A-Coming": Inside 
Black America (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1943) , 
pp. 322-42. 

88 Ltr, Stafford King, State Auditor of Minnesota 
and Civ Aide to SW, to SW, 8 Jul 40, AG 2gi,ai 
(7-8-40) (I) . Mr. King had informed the War 
Department earlier that a Negro classmate of his 
son, standing high in the CAA classes at the 
University of Minnesota, had been refused further 
pilot training "for no reason except that he is 
colored." 



commanding general of the Fifth Corps 
Area reported to the War Department 
that, of several hundreds of Negroes ap- 
plying to recruiting stations in his area, 
most had to be turned away. "Their 
disappointment and dissatisfaction after 
having met with failure in their efforts 
to get into the Army, makes them fertile 
ground for the activities of subversive 
agents, in the opinion of some of our 
Recruiting Officers," he wrote. 64 

Replying to such inquiries and com- 
ments with what were essentially form 
letters began to seem inappropriate to 
Maj. Gen. Emory S. Adams, The Adju- 
tant General. To one of the earlier 
letters of Stafford King, he prepared a 
form answer and delivered it to the 
Secretary of War with a memorandum 
attached : 

1. The attached reply to Mr. Stafford 
King on his letter regarding the status of 
Negroes in the Regular Army has been 
prepared in accordance with past policies 
and precedents, but fails to reach the crux 
of the situation in my opinion because the 
policies and precedents are not in accord 
with the state of affairs in the United 
States. 

2. The colored race is entitled to greater 
and better representation in our Army for 
obvious reasons, many of which are set 
forth in Mr. King's letter, and this whole 
subject should have careful and immediate 
study to determine the future policy of 
the War Department in the premises. 

3. It is recommended that this study be 
initiated without delay. 65 

To this recommendation, G-i replied 
that it was collaborating with G-3 on 
just such a study. 88 

31 Ltr, CG Fifth Corps Area to TAG, 5 Aug 40, 
AG 291.21 (8-5-40) 9 (2). 

"Memo, TAG for SW, 18 May 40, AG 291.21 
(5-3-40) (1) . 

811 Memo, G-i for CofS, 20 May 40, AG 291.21 
(5-3-40) . 



68 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



The preparation of studies in itself 
did little to solve the dilemma of the use 
of Negro troops. Negroes and their 
partisans, knowing nothing of the con- 
tents of these studies or of the impor- 
tance attached to them, continued to 
carry their case to the public and the 
Congress. Comparisons with World 
War I were used skillfully by Negro 
spokesmen, with a constant overtone of 
"We want no repetition of the tragic 
errors of that war." They made 
speeches, they wrote articles, they con- 
sulted with men in high places, they 
appeared at Congressional hearings, they 
utilized the services and sought the aid 
of the better-known members of the 
boards of their organizations. They 
hoped that, by working before the dec- 
laration of war, before the beginning of 
large-scale expansion of the Army, they 
might escape the necessity of deciding 
which was to come first once war was 
declared: a struggle to obtain additional 
rights and privileges or a quiescent ac- 
ceptance, once war began, of a status quo 
which they were convinced had long 
since been proved impractical. Their 
aim was full integration of Negroes into 
the armed services as Americans and not 
as a special class of citizens. "We will 
be American soldiers. We will be 
American ditchdiggers. We will be 
American laborers. We will be any- 
thing that any other American should be 
in this whole program of national de- 
fense. But we won't be black auxilia- 
ries," Dean William H. Hastie of the 
Howard University Law School de- 
clared. 67 Under known Army policies, 

57 Quoted in Walter White, "It's Our Country, 
Too: The Negro Demands the Right to Fight For 
It," Reprinted with permission from The Saturday 
Evening Post, CCXIII, 63. Copyright 1940 The 
Curtis Publishing Company. 



it seemed doubtful to many Negroes 
that they would be anything other than 
grudgingly accepted auxiliaries. 

New Bills and Units 

In the summer of 1940, two new Con- 
gressional bills to increase the size of the 
Army, incidentally affecting the employ- 
ment of Negro troops, engaged the at- 
tention of the War Department. One 
would have given the President authority 
to assign officers and enlisted men during 
fiscal year 1941 to the various branches 
of the Army in "such numbers as he 
considers necessary. . . . Provided, that 
no person shall be excluded from any 
branch of the military establishment on 
account of race, creed, or color." The 
G-3 Division felt that passage of legisla- 
tion containing this provision would 
"disrupt completely plans for the organ- 
ization of an effective military force." 68 
G-i predicted that such a provision 
would make it impossible to limit Negro 
enlistments to a number proportionate 
to the Negro population. Conceivably, 
the bulk of the Regular Army might 
become Negro. Because of the uncer- 
tainty of the number of Negro enlist- 
ments, no "balanced force" could be 
maintained if Negro and white units 
were to be kept separate. The legisla- 
tive proposal might force the Army to 
organize Negro units in every arm and 
service. 69 After getting the General 
Staff divisions' views, Secretary Wood- 
ring summarized the department's ob- 
jections to the provision, linking them to 
the Japanese threat and to the possibility 



* Memo, G-3 for CofS, 13 Jun 40, AG 011 (6- 
13-40) (1). 

60 Ibid.; Memo, G-i for CofS, 13 Jun 40, AG 
011 (6-12-40) (1). 



THE NEGRO POSITION DEFINED 



69 



that passage might endanger the main- 
tenance of segregated units: 

It is impossible to forecast definitely 
what its effect might be. Its retention in 
the bill might result in the enlistment of 
Negroes or Japanese in numbers out of all 
proportion to the colored population of 
the country. Such a result would demoral- 
ize and weaken the effect of military units 
by mixing colored and white soldiers in 
closely related units, or even in the same 
units. It might also have a dangerously 
adverse effect upon discipline should it be 
necessary to have colored and white troops 
in the same units or closely related units. 
I have no objection whatever to negro 
troops but must not be required to take 
them in such numbers as to prevent the 
proper organization of the army. I strongly 
urge the conferees to strike this provision 
from the bill. 70 

The joint conferees of the House and 
Senate substituted a provision which 
read, as passed: "Provided, That no Ne- 
gro, because of race, shall be excluded 
from enlistment in the Army for service 
with colored military units now organ- 
ized or to be organized for such serv- 
ice." 71 This substitution left the man- 
ner of the enlistment and employment 
of Negroes exactly where it had been 
before. 

But the net effect of the original pro- 
posal was to increase the allotment of 
Negro combat units in the Army for the 
first time in twenty years and to provide 
types of units in which Negroes had not 
previously been employed. For, al- 
though the provision, as originally 
worded, was stricken from the bill, the 
War Department could not be certain 

70 Ltr, SW to Senator Morris Sheppard, Chairman 
Senate Mil Affairs Com, 13 Jun 40, AG 011 (6- 
12-40) (1). 

71 Public Law 703, 76th Cong., approved 2 Jul 
40; published to the Army in WD Bull 17, 2 Aug 
40. 



that it would not reappear and become 
a part of final legislation. In an effort 
to "forestall the reinclusion of this pro- 
vision," the Chief of Staff authorized 
Maj. Wilton B. Persons, Office of the 
Secretary of War, to inform "appropriate 
conferees" that the War Department was 
making definite plans to organize "a 
considerable number" of additional Ne- 
gro units of the ground forces under the 
provisions of a second bill, authorizing 
an increase of the Regular Army by an- 
other 95,000 men. Major Persons re- 
ported that the matter was "handled 
with satisfactory results." 72 

The new Negro units added under 
this compromise were: one 155-mm. gun 
field artillery regiment; two coast artil- 
lery antiaircraft gun regiments; one gen- 
eral service engineer regiment; twelve 
quartermaster truck companies; and one 
chemical decontamination company. 
Each of these units, except the second 
coast artillery regiment and the chemi- 
cal company, was within the Negro al- 
lotment contained in the current Pro- 
tective Mobilization Plan, although not 
all of those activated were units desig- 
nated specifically in the PMP as Negro. 
The total strength of the new Negro 
units w r as to be 4,595, or 8.4 percent of 
the 55,000 increase authorized for 
ground troops. The Negro strength of 
the Army was to be more than doubled 
by the addition of the new units. 

Providing this augmentation illus- 
trated some of the difficulties and ad- 
ministrative annoyances inherent in 
expanding the Army's Negro strength. 
They foreshadowed many of the later 

72 Memo, OCS (initialed G.C.M.) for Maj Per- 
sons, 20 Jun 40, OCS 20602-2, and penciled note 
thereon, AG 011 (6-20-40); Memo, OCS for G-i, 
G-2, G 3, G-4, and WPD, 19 Jun 40, OCS 20602-61. 



70 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



problems which the Army was to face. 
In the first place, since the PMP repre- 
sented a balanced force, the addition of 
Negro units could not be accomplished 
simply by constituting new Negro units 
to be added to the PMP. Several of the 
new Negro units had to be provided 
from among organizations that already 
existed but that were designated for 
whites. The 349th Field Artillery 

(155-mm.) , for example, was withdrawn 
from the Organized Reserves, reallotted 
to the Regular Army, changed to a mo- 
torized regiment, and designated Ne- 
gro. 73 The 5o2d and 503d Coast Artillery 

(AA) regiments, white Reserve units, 
were redesignated 76th Coast Artillery 

(AA) and 77th Coast Artillery (AA) 
and made Negro Regular Army units. 
The 1st Chemical Decontamination 
Company, which was white in the PMP, 
was made a Negro unit. Of the new 
units, only the 41st Engineer Regiment 
and the 48th Quartermaster Regiment 
had been Negro all along. 74 

In the augmentation plans and activa- 
tion orders, companies of the 48th Quar- 
termaster Regiment were designated for 
activation with Negro personnel, but the 
48th, although so indicated in the PMP, 
was not designated "Negro" in the War 
Department's orders. The Third Corps 
Area, to which the unit was allotted, 
therefore had to ask the War Depart- 
ment whether its intention was to acti- 
vate the companies of this regiment with 
Negro enlisted men. The query was 
natural, since the 47th Quartermaster 
Regiment, now designated Negro, had 

79 This regiment had been an element of the 
World War I g2d Division. 

74 Memo, O-3 for TAG, 10 Jul 40, AG 320.2 (7- 
10-40) (a) ; Ltr, TAG to CG's, Chiefs, and CO's 
of Exempted Stations, 20 Jul 40, AG 320.2 (7-10- 
40) M (Ret) M-C. 



been white in the 1939 PMP and since 
the mid- 1940 augmentation had origi- 
nally included eight companies of the 
47th which were now deleted. The 
War Department replied that its inten- 
tion was to activate the 48th Regiment 
with Negroes. 75 

The new white units in the expansion 
of the Army were opened for enlistment 
on 1 August, but enlistments in Negro 
units were delayed until 15 August. 
Certain of the Negro units could not be 
housed at their assigned stations until 
the construction of "Negro housing" was 
completed. They were to be activated 
at temporary stations and moved later. 
Providing cadres for the new types of 
units was a difficult problem. Time 
was needed to prepare the Negro cadre- 
men, who had to be obtained from exist- 
ing units of the traditional branches, for 
their task of establishing and training 
units in new branches. 

The organization of new Negro units 
in the Regular Army raised questions 
within the Army. Would these units 
become permanent parts of the Regular 
Army? Would the branches have dif- 
ficulty in inactivating them once the 
emergency was over? Would their es- 
tablishment mean that other arms and 
services besides the Infantry and Cavalry 
would now have a peacetime "Negro 
problem?" 76 

Certain of the arms and services still 
did not believe that they should be given 
the task of organizing Negro units at all. 
Specific objection came from the Gen- 
eral Headquarters (GHQ) Air Force, 



75 Msg, CG Third Corps Area to WD, 23 Jul 
40 and Rad, WD to CG Third Corps Area, 26 Jul 
40, WD G-3/41389 and AG 320.2 (7-23-40) . 

76 Cf., Memo, G-3 for G-i, 7 Oct 40, AG 210.31- 
ORC (9-28-40) . 



THE NEGRO POSITION DEFINED 



71 



which asked that the ist Chemical De- 
contamination Company be exchanged 
for a white unit. Such a company in 
air operations, the CHQ Air Force said, 
must be broken down into small detach- 
ments for use at various bases and distrib- 
uting points. The detachments must 
live and mess with other Air Corps units. 
Since all other units of the GHQ Air 
Force were white, the decontamination 
company should also be white." The 
Chief of the Air Corps asked for favor- 
able consideration of the request. G-g 
pointed out that the method of utiliza- 
tion described by the GHQ Air Force 
was but one of many and that during 
peacetime such a unit need not be used 
in this manner at all, unless it could be 
so employed with minimum difficulties. 
The request was not approved and the 
unit was activated with Negroes. 78 

Opening enlistments for Negroes in 
new Regular Army combat units was 
distinctly news in the civilian press. In 
Detroit, for example, Araiy recruiting 
made an all-time record for the city on 
15 August, the day when recruiting of 
Negroes began. "Those enlisted today 
included 29 Negroes, the first Negroes 
to be enlisted for combat units here since 
1920," the Detroit News reported. 
Chicago recruiting offices broke the na- 
tional record by enrolling over 100 men 
in a day.™ 

The pattern set in the establishment 
of these new units was in several ways 
typical of later Army experience. The 

"Ltr. CG GHQ AF to TAG, Jul 40, AG 5*0.* 

(r'S-4°) (>)- 

"Memo, G- 3 for TAG, a 5 Jul 40, AG $so.z 
(7-13-40) (1). 

""Detroit News. August 15, 1940, read into the 
Congressional Record hy Senator Arthur Vanden- 
hurg (August 19, 1940) , p, 104.7a; Chicago Defender, 
September 7, 1940. 



redesignation of white units to receive 
Negroes, the semiconfusion of the racial 
identity of units, delays in assembling 
units caused by lack of housing and 
trained cadres, objections to the receipt 
of Negro units by branches of services, 
and the readiness of Negroes to enter 
new units were to be repeated many 
times during mobilization and during 
the course of World War II. 

The legislative compromise out of 
which the new units came had additional 
significance. It was the first of a series 
which, by adding a few units here, and 
subtracting a few there, caused a rela- 
tively haphazard development in the 
expansion of Negro strength. The ex- 
pansion was often based more on expedi- 
ency than on either military necessity or 
sound planning. Existing plans were 
often altered by factors, frequently non- 
military, which interfered with the or- 
derly procedures visualized for the 
expansion of Negro strength. 

The Selective Training and 
Service Act 

The legislation of 1940 primarily af- 
fecting the employment of Negro troops 
by the Army was the Selective Training 
and Service Act. When first proposed, 
this legislation contained a preamble 
which read in part: "The Congress fur- 
ther declares that in a free society the 
obligations and privileges of military 
training and service should be shared 
generally in accordance with a fair and 
just system of selective compulsory mili- 
tary training and service." Neverthe- 
less, Negroes and supporters of their 
efforts to obtain full military training, 
remembering that Public Law 18 of 
April 1939 had produced no pilots, 



72 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



pressed for additional safeguards. 

Rayford W. Logan of Howard Uni- 
versity, chairman of the civilian Com- 
mittee on Participation of Negroes in the 
National Defense Program, testified be- 
fore the House Committee on Military 
Affairs that amendments to the Selective 
Service bill which stated specifically the 
intent of Congress should be inserted. 
He asked that a new subsection be add- 
ed: "No provision of this act shall be 
construed or administered so as to dis- 
criminate against any person on account 
of race, creed, or color," or, as an alter- 
native, "In the selection and training of 
men as well as in the interpretation and 
execution of the provisions of this act 
there shall be no discrimination against 
any person on account of race, creed or 
color." 80 Other spokesmen, Charles H. 
Houston, NAACP civil rights lawyer, 
and Owen D. Young, representing the 
American Youth Commission, urged the 
adoption of amendments similar to those 
proposed by Logan. Proposals that 
Negroes be given safeguards leading to 
fuller service made a favorable impres- 
sion on the committee, for much of the 
testimony before it had been from paci- 
fist and other groups opposed to the 
bill. Representative Paul J. Kilday of 
Texas asked Professor Logan, "You are 
not asking for the exemption of your 
race, but you are asking that they be put 
into it?" Logan replied, "Yes, and it 
seems to me extraordinary that they are 
not." "I think your stand is in marked 
contrast to some of those who have been 
here," Kilday commented. 

Antidiscrimination amendments were 
introduced in both the House and Sen- 

80 Selective Compulsory Military Training and 
Service, Hearings ... on H.R. 10132, 76th Cong., 
3d sess., p. 587. 



ate, despite the fact that the bill, as re- 
ported out by the committees, contained 
sections forbidding discrimination 
against volunteers and requiring selec- 
tion "in an impartial manner." Repre- 
sentative Hamilton Fish of New York 
introduced an amendment in the House 
which was essentially Logan's alterna- 
tive amendment. It applied to selectees 
only. Senator Robert F. Wagner, also of 
New York, sought to include specific 
mention of aviation units as well as to 
make it mandatory that men be selected 
"without regard to race, creed or color." 
Both proponents urged that Negroes be 
guaranteed the right to serve in any 
branch without restrictions because of 
color. 

There was little direct Congressional 
opposition to the amendments as such, 
but the debate on the subject of Negroes 
in the proposed Army training program 
illustrated not only the effect of political 
pressures on the Congress but also the 
political results of public interest in the 
subject. The debates covered the range 
of public reaction to the question of 
legislative guarantees of Negro participa- 
tion in the preparedness program. 
Some congressmen asserted that the 
amendments were not aimed at the pre- 
vention of discrimination against Ne- 
groes at all but at the breakdown of 
segregation within the Army. Senator 
Allen J. Ellender of Louisiana objected 
that the amendment would lead to ra- 
cially mixed units and his colleague, 
Senator John H. Overton, arguing on the 
distinction between discrimination and 
segregation, said: 

I understand from members of the gen- 
eral staff that there is no discrimination 
whatever against the colored race. They 
are, however, placed in separate units, 



THE NEGRO POSITION DEFINED 



73 



while the desire on the part of a certain 
class of our population is that there should 
be mixed units. If we should undertake 
to establish mixed units in the Army, it 
would be subversive to discipline, sub- 
versive to morale, and would not be of 
benefit either to the colored or to the white 
race. ... I think I am justified in making 
the observation that if they are excluded 
from the air forces it is because the Army 
is not ready yet to have separate units. I 
think that would be the only reason. 81 

Senator Tom Connally of Texas, recall- 
ing the Civil War, and the Houston riot 
of World War I, said of the Wagner 
proposal: 

I think the Senator from New York does 
not properly interpret the spirit of the 
colored race. He may interpret the spirit 
of one or two of them who are on salaries 
around here to agitate the colored people; 
he may speak for one or two colored lobby- 
ists; but he does not speak for the great 
mass of the American colored people. Most 
of them are hard working, most of them 
mean well; most of them want to do right; 
most of them want to serve their country 
—if their country needs them. A few of 
them want continually to agitate, disturb, 
stir up discussion, and raise the devil about 
what they speak of as their political and 
social rights. 82 

Senator W. Warren Barbour of New 
Jersey, on the other hand, contended 
that anything less than equitable distri- 
bution of Negroes among the arms and 
services would constitute discrimination. 
In World War I, he said, many Negroes 
were 

. . . wholly and only in labor battalions. 
They were given only this sort of work 
which, while important in itself, was dis- 
criminatory. The fact that so much of that 
really non-military duty was confined to 
that one race proved that it was discrimi- 



natory; and this is not fair, it is not right, 
it is not American. 83 

Senator Schwartz recalled that, a year 
before, the Congress had passed a bill 
(Public Law 18) which authorized the 
Army to train colored pilots. The 
Army, he continued, had not been able 
to "work out that provision" because of 
the social implications involved. He 
reminded the Senate that recruiting no- 
tices reading "white only" had disturb- 
ing effects among the Negro population. 
Negroes with whom he had talked, he 
pointed out, believed that "a very large 
number of colored men were not with 
colored regiments, but they were with 
a white artillery regiment and with other 
regiments, taking care of horses— polo 
ponies, probably." Though the War 
Department had not created "what they 
call the social situation in the South and 
in the Army," he continued, "they are 
trying to meet the situation for they 
must and will work with it and produce 
a plan where Negroes, such as pilots, 
would not have to be working with 
white pilots." 81 

When the Selective Service Act was 
finally passed, it contained two specific 
provisions against discrimination be- 
cause of race or color. The first, in 
section 3 (a), provided: "That within 
the limits of the quota determined under 
section 4 (b) for the subdivision in 
which he resides, any person, regardless 
of race or color, between the ages of 
eighteen and thirty-six, shall be afforded 
an opportunity to volunteer for induc- 
tion into the land or naval forces of the 
United States for the training and serv- 
ice prescribed. . . ." The second, in sec- 



81 Congressional Record, 86, p. 10890. 
92 Ibid., p. 10894. 



83 Ibid., p. 10890. 
u Ibid., p. 10891. 



74 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



tion 4 (a), read: "That in the selection 
and training o£ men under this act, and 
in the interpretation and execution of 
the provisions of this act, there shall be 
no discrimination against any person on 
account of race or color." 85 The inclu- 
sion of these provisions did not of itself 
satisfy those opponents of discrimination 
who visualized a draft Army which, with 
segregation as a pattern, would spread 
discriminatory practices over the entire 
United States. 

Although the Army had stated several 
times that, if the Selective Service bill 
passed and became law, Negroes would 
be inducted in proportion to their 
strength in the manpower covered by 
the law, there was an additional provi- 
sion in the law which caused Negro 
leaders some concern. Section g con- 
tinued: 

Provided further, That no man shall be 
inducted for training and service under 
this act unless and until he is acceptable to 
the land or naval forces for such training 
and service and his physical and mental 
fitness for such training and service has 
been satisfactorily determined: Provided 
further, That no men shall be inducted 
for such training and service until ade- 
quate provision shall have been made for 
such shelter, sanitary facilities, water sup- 
plies, heating and lighting arrangements, 
medical care, and hospital accommoda- 
tions, for such men, as may be determined 
by the Secretary of War or the Secretary 
of the Navy, as the case may be, to be 
essential to public and personal health. 

The questions raised by this section 
were: Would Negroes be "acceptable 
to the land or naval forces?" Would the 
force of "unless and until" provide a 
means of limiting service "unless and 
until" the armed forces had a need for 



88 Public Law 783, 76th Cong., 16 Sep 40. 



the individual Negro? Could lack of 
shelter or hospital accommodations for 
Negroes be made a limiting factor in 
their induction? 86 

Announcements and Appointments 

To obtain answers to these and other 
questions, leaders of Negro organizations 
prepared a memorandum setting forth 
what they considered minimum requests. 
The text of this memorandum was pre- 
sented to President Roosevelt, Secretary 
of the Navy Frank Knox, and Assistant 
Secretary of War Robert P. Patterson at 
a White House conference on 27 Septem- 
ber ig40. 8T The portion of the pro- 
gram applying to the armed services 
read: 

The following are important phases 
of the integration of the Negro into mili- 
tary aspects of the national defense pro- 
gram. 

1. The use of presently available Negro 
reserve officers in training recruits and 
other forms of active service. At the same 
time, a policy of training additional Negro 
officers in all branches of the services 
should be announced. Present facilities and 
those to be provided in the future should 
be made available for such training. 

2. Immediate designation of centers 
where Negroes may be trained for work 
in all branches of the aviation corps. It is 
not enough to train pilots alone, but in 
addition navigators, bombers, gunners, 

M Cf., Walter White, "It's Our Country, Too: 
The Negro Demands the Right to Fight," Saturday 
Evening Post, CCXIII (December 14, 1940) , 27, 61- 
68. 

97 The Negroes presenting this program were 
Walter White, T. Arnold Hill, formerly industrial 
secretary of the Urban League and at that time 
adviser on Negro Affairs in the National Vouth 
Administration, and A. Phillip Randolph. Cf., 
Walter F. White, A Man Called White (New York: 
Viking, 1948) , pp. 186-89; Pittsburgh Courier, 
October 19, 1940. 



THE NEGRO POSITION DEFINED 



75 



radiomen, and mechanics must be trained 
in order to facilitate full Negro participa- 
tion in the air service. 

3. Existing units of the army and units 
to be established should be required to 
accept and select officers and enlisted per- 
sonnel without regard to race. 

4. Specialized personnel such as Negro 
physicians, dentists, pharmacists and of- 
ficers of chemical warfare, camouflage serv- 
ice and the like should be integrated into 
the services. 

5. The appointment of Negroes as re- 
sponsible members in the various national 
and local agencies engaged in the admin- 
istration of the Selective Service Training 
Act of 1940. 

6. The development of effective tech- 
niques for insuring the extension of the 
policy of integration in the Navy other 
than the menial services to which Negroes 
are now restricted. 

7. The adoption of policies and the de- 
velopment of techniques to assure the par- 
ticipation of trained Negro women as 
Army and Navy nurses as well as in the 
Red Cross. 88 

The White House had already di- 
rected the War Department, on 5 Sep- 
tember, to prepare and hold a statement 
to the effect that "colored men will 
have equal opportunity with white men 
in all departments of the Army." 89 
General Marshall informed his Person- 
nel Division that, at a cabinet meeting 
on 13 September, the President had 
stated that "he had been troubled by 
representations of the Negroes that their 
race under the draft was limited to labor 
battalions." The Army informed the 
President that it planned to give Ne- 
groes "proportionate shares in all 
branches of the Army, in the proper 
ratio to their population— approximately 
10 percent." The President then sug- 

w The Crisis, LXVII (November, 1940). 
89 Memo, OCS foT G-i and G-3, 5 Sep 40, OCS 
20602-78. 



gested that the War Department, "in 
conjunction with the Navy," publicize 
this fact. "The Secretary of War wishes 
an exact statement of the facts in the 
case, and as to how far. we can go in the 
matter," the Chief of Staff wrote. 90 

On 16 September 1940, the day the 
Selective Service Act was approved, the 
War Department issued a press release 
headed "Expansion of Colored Organiza- 
tions Planned." When the Selective 
Service System began to operate, the 
release reported, 36,000 of the first 400,- 
000 men called would be Negroes. The 
release listed all Negro units, including 
the new August units, and mentioned 
the CAA program, adding that "the cre- 
ation of additional colored combat or- 
ganizations is now under consideration." 
It implied, but did not state, that these 
would include Air Corps units. 

On 8 October 1940, Assistant Secretary 
Patterson, "as the result of a conference 
in your office on September 27," sub- 
mitted to President Roosevelt a full 
statement of policy, already approved 
informally by the Secretary of War and 
the Chief of Staff. The President pen- 
ciled his "O.K." and initials on this 
memorandum, thereby giving his ap- 
proval to a policy which remained in 
effect throughout the war. On the 
morning of 9 October it was released to 
the press by the White House. 91 This 
first comprehensive statement on the 
subject read: 

It is the policy of the War Department 
that the services of Negroes will be utilized 
on a fair and equitable basis. In line with 



80 Memo, CofS (initialed G.C.M.) for G-i, 14 
Sep 40, OCS 20602-79. 

n Memo, ASW for President, 8 Oct 40; Ltr, Secy 
to President (Stephen Early) to ASW, 9 Oct 40, 
AG 291. a 1 (10-9-40) (1) . 



76 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



this policy provision will be made as fol- 
lows: 

1. The strength of the Negro personnel 
of the Army of the United States will be 
maintained on the general basis of the 
proportion of the Negro population of the 
country. 

2. Negro organizations will be estab- 
lished in each major branch of the service, 
combatant as well as noncombatant. 

3. Negro reserve officers eligible for ac- 
tive duty will be assigned to Negro units 
officered by colored personnel. 

4. When officer candidate schools are es- 
tablished, opportunity will be given to 
Negroes to qualify for reserve commissions. 

5. Negroes are being given aviation 
training as pilots, mechanics and technical 
specialists. This training will be accel- 
erated. 

6. At arsenals and army posts Negro 
civilians are accorded equal opportunity 
for employment at work for which they 
are qualified by ability, education, and 
experience. 

7. The policy of the War Department is 
not to intermingle colored and white en- 
listed personnel in the same regimental or- 
ganizations. This policy has been proven 
satisfactory over a long period of years, and 
to make changes now would produce situa- 
tions destructive to morale and detrimental 
to the preparation for national defense. 
For similar reasons the department does 
not contemplate assigning colored reserve 
officers other than those of the Medical 
Corps and chaplains to existing Negro 
combat units of the Regular Army. These 
regular units are going concerns, accus- 
tomed through many years to the present 
system. Their morale is splendid, their rate 
of reenlistment is exceptionally high, and 
their field training is well advanced, It is 
the opinion of the War Department that 
no experiments should be tried with the 
organizational set-up of these units at this 
critical time. 92 

The White House, in releasing the 



92 Incl to Memo, ASW for President, 8 Oct 40, 
distributed to Army 16 Oct 40 by Ltr, AG 291.21 
{10-9-40) (1). 



statement, implied that it was the result 
of the 27 September conference with 
Negro leaders. The measure of the 
protests which went up from Negroes 
was the measure of the distance between 
the White House announcement and 
their proposed program. The men who 
had attended the White House confer- 
ence were especially annoyed by the 
implication that they had endorsed the 
announced policy. 93 They were specif- 
ically disturbed about points five and 
seven. The announcement embodied 
the main points of a policy adopted 
(although not announced) by the War 
Department in 1937, in its planning for 
mobilization; and the final paragraph 
repeated, in almost identical phrases, 
the statements made in the many Adju- 
tant General letters which had gone out 
to individuals all over the country. 
Nevertheless, this statement, which con- 
tained the basic Army policy in force 
throughout the war, was afterward re- 
ferred to within the War Department as 
the Presidential directive on the use of 
Negro troops and as a Presidential sanc- 
tion for policies derived therefrom. 94 

Had the policy announcement been 
made earlier, as had been intended in 
the 1937 recommendations, reaction to 
it might have been slight, for the details 
of the announcement went beyond what 
the Negro press and public had expected 
or requested as late as the beginning of 
1940. Coming as it did, after the Selec- 



98 Pittsburgh Courier, October ig, 1940; Time, 
October 28, 1940; White, A Man Called White, pp. 
186-89. 

"Examples: (1) "This procedure [training' Ne- 
groes at Tuskegee] would be necessary to follow 
out the President's policy of segregation of the 
races." R&R, OCofAC, Pers to Gen Arnold, 30 
Jan 40 [41], AAF 353.9-4-A; (a) Min of Gen 
Council, 16 Jun 42, p. g. 



THE NEGRO POSITION DEFINED 



77 



tive Service Act, which had already le- 
galized proportionate representation of 
Negroes through the operation of a ran- 
dom choice lottery, the question of man- 
ner of service was the only one left which 
was of primary concern. The statement 
on air training had less than the ring of 
conviction about it, since no training of 
the sort was being given by the Army. 
The reference to Regular Army units, 
over half of which were less than two 
months old, helped clinch the belief, 
held by most Negroes, that there was a 
wide gap between the words and the 
intentions of the War Department. 
"Of all the shabby dealings of America 
with a tenth of her citizens," The Crisis 
commented in its issue following the 
announcement, "none is more shameful 
or more indefensible than the refusal to 
give Negroes a fair chance in the armed 
forces." The editorial continued: 

The citizens' army that is to be trained 
under the Selective Service Act will find 
shortly that the Army and the Navy are 
being run very much like country clubs. 
Americans discovered that in 1917, but 
there was a war to be fought at once then 
and there was not much they could do 
about it. Now it should be different and 
the peacetime army and its civilian rela- 
tives, given a space to think and act before 
actual warfare interferes, may force some 
changes. 95 

Thereafter, and throughout the war, 
The Crisis, and most of the Negro press, 
while praising the signs of change within 
the Army which meant greater oppor- 
tunities for Negroes, continued to attack 
the Army's segregation policy, even in 
connection with such installations as the 
Tuskegee Army Flying School, which 
trained the Negro pilots for which the 



The Crisis, LXVII (December, 1940) , 375. 



press had worked so long, and in connec- 
tion with the activation of Negro divi- 
sions. A Negro journalist commented 
shortly after Pearl Harbor that no Negro 
leader in 1942 could write a "Close 
Ranks" editorial of the 1918 model if he 
expected to maintain his influence. 
"For in the last war," he argued, "in 
spite of the acknowledged bravery of 
Negro troops, they suffered all forms of 
Jim Crow, humiliation, discrimination, 
and indeed slander— a pattern being fol- 
lowed today." 96 One of the NAACP's 
most prominent officers, William Pick- 
ens, for example, was discharged by the 
organization as an apologist for segrega- 
tion after he had commended the Army's 
work at Tuskegee and at Fort Huachuca. 

By no means all comments on the 
announcement of Army policy, by or on 
behalf of Negroes, were adverse. 97 It 
was often pointed out that, under the 
new policy, Negroes would have broader 
opportunities than they had had in the 
past. Some Negroes wrote to the War 
Department to say that they thought it a 
"fine thing" to give the Negro a place in 
the armed services in proportion to pop- 
ulation. Others, including Negro col- 
lege officers and presidents, offered their 
services as advisers to the Secretary of 
War and in capacities in which they 
would be able to stress the need of na- 
tional unity to Negro audiences. 98 But 

w Roi Ottley, "A White Folks' War?" Common 
Ground, II (Spring, 1942) , 28-29. 

87 See Nation, CLI (October 26, 1940), 378-79; 
Father John LaFarge, "Our Jim Crow Army/' 
America (October, 1940). 

88 Ltrs in AG 291.21, Oct-Nov 40. See especially 
Ltr, Brig Gen Spencer C. Dickinson (Illinois N. G„ 
Ret.) to Gen Marshall, 10 Oct 40, AG 291.21 (10- 
10-40} , praising the Army for its new policy. In an 
accompanying memorandum, General Marshall 
wrote to G— 1, "The writer of the attached letter 
is a colored man, who commanded the 8th Illinois 



78 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 




General Davis 



the majority of the comments and corre- 
spondence criticized one or another of 
the announced policy decisions. 

In the wake of criticisms, other com- 
mitments were made. Bishop Richard 
R. Wright, chairman of the Colored 
Division of the National Democratic 
Headquarters, asked Stephen Early, 
Press Secretary to the President, if any- 
thing had been done by the Republicans 
since the Spanish-American War to make 
permanent additions of Negro Regulars 
to the Army and if it was "a fact that 
under the present administration the 
Negro has gotten more recognition in 



Infantry. He is a medical graduate of the Uni- 
versity of Heidelberg, I believe. It is just as well 
to have this man in mind in case of attacks of our 
not having given enough to the negro pressure." 
Memo, CofS for G-i and Maj [W. B.] Smith, 
signed GCM, CofS, 14 Oct 40, AG 291.21 (10- 
10-40) . 



the Army than ever before, and what is 
the record?" G-i made no attempt to 
answer the first of these questions, but 
in response to the second it compiled a 
list of the new Negro units recently ap- 
proved and of those planned for the near 
future." On the basis of this informa- 
tion Assistant Secretary Patterson in- 
formed the White House that, in addi- 
tion to the new units already provided, 
three infantry regiments, one engineer 
regiment, eight engineer battalions, 
"and the necessary ordnance and quar- 
termaster troops" would be formed in 
the spring from Selective Service men. 100 
'Also from Selective Service personnel, 
2,250 men will be trained in Air Corps 
units," Patterson's memorandum con- 
cluded. 101 The next day a supplemen- 
tary memorandum, delivered to the 
White House by Maj. Walter Bedell 
Smith, indicated that the 4th Cavalry 
Brigade was being formed and that it 
would be one of two, the other brigade 
to be white, forming the 2d Cavalry 
Division. 102 Thus, in answer to the de- 
mands of the 1940 political campaign, 
the War Department committed itself to 
action in terms of specific units, filling 
out the announcement of g October that 
though Negroes would remain in sepa- 
rate units they would be represented in 

"•Memo, G-i for CofS, ai Oct 40, AG 322.97 
(10-21-40) . 

100 Memo, ASW for William D. Hassett, The 
White House, ai Oct 40, AG 322.97 (10-21-40). 
G-i had also listed an artillery brigade head- 
quarters and headquarters battery, one signal 
contruction company, an additional chemical com- 
pany, a cavalry brigade weapons troop, two ponton 
companies, and the numbers of Negroes to be 
trained in the replacement centers of each arm 
and service. These details were not forwarded to 
the White House. 

1M Memo cited n. 100. 

1(8 Memo, Gen Marshall for William D. Hassett, 
22 Oct 40, AG 322.97 (10-21-40). 



THE NEGRO POSITION DEFINED 



79 



all arms and services. These units were 
all to be provided, but the manner and 
nature of their provision was yet to be 
worked out. The question of the man- 
ner and nature of their employment was 
still further in the future. 

Two more steps were taken within 
this same pre-election week. On 25 
October Col. Benjamin O. Davis, sen- 
ior Negro officer in the Army, was nom- 
inated for promotion to brigadier 
general. 103 On the same day Secretary 
Stimson appointed William Hastie, 
Dean of the Howard University Law 
School, as his Civilian Aide on Negro Af- 
fairs. 104 

The first of these appointments re- 
ceived widespread attention in the na- 



103 The Senate received the nomination along 
with others on 7 November. (Congressional Record 
86, 13610, 13827.) General Davis, born in Washing- 
ton on 1 July 1877, had had a long Army career. 
He had been a 1st lieutenant in the 8th U.S. 
Volunteer Infantry in the Spanish-American War; 
in 1899 ne enlisted in the gth Cavalry. He was 
appointed 2d lieutenant, Cavalry, in 1901; by 1930 
he had been promoted to colonel. He had served 
with the 10th Cavalry during the Philippine in- 
surrection, with the Mexican Border patrol, and 
with the American legation in Liberia. The re- 
mainder of his career had been spent as a Na- 
tional Guard and ROTC instructor and in other 
special duties. Negro newspapers had been hinting 
for some time that "rumor" had it that, like Col. 
Charles Young, he would be retired rather than 
promoted. Retired originally on 31 July 1941, Gen- 
eral Davis returned to active duty the next day, 
1 August 1941. After 50 years in the Army, Gen- 
eral Davis went on inactive duty in July 1948. 

101 Dean Hastie had had a distinguished public 
career. Negro press comments on his appointment 
indicated that the Negro public had high respect 
for his abilities. Hastie had been assistant solicitor 
for the Department of the Interior, Federal District 
Judge of the Virgin Islands (the first Negro to be 
appointed to the federal bench) , chairman of the 
National Legal Committee of the NAACP, and a 
prominent member of civic improvement groups 
in the city of Washington. Various Negro organi- 
zations, including the press, had been asking for 
the appointment of such an adviser. 




Judge Hastie 



tional press, for this was the first time 
that a Negro had achieved general offi- 
cer's rank in the United States Army. 
The second appointment was widely 
noted as a sign that the Army intended 
to expand its Negro strength with a min- 
imum of difficulties. The political sig- 
nificance of the appointments was not 
overlooked. Some viewed the Davis pro- 
motion as a Roosevelt administration at- 
tempt to counteract Negro opposition to 
the October policy announcement. In 
promoting General Davis, Time com- 
mented, the administration was already 
violating its announced policy, since he 
would leave his all-Negro command, the 
369th New York National Guard Regi- 
ment, for the new 4th Cavalry Brigade, 
containing the 9th and 10th Cavalry 
Regiments, both of which, as Regular 



80 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Army outfits, had all white officers. 
The white officers could be replaced by 
Negro Reserve officers, but even then 
the policy would be violated, since 
Negro Reserve officers were not to be 
used in Regular Army units. The eas- 
iest way out, the magazine continued, 
would be to retire General Davis on his 
sixty-fourth birthday due the next July, 
for "By then the election will be 
over." 105 The Negro press, in general, 
greeted the promotion with approval, 
though indicating that it alone was not 
enough. 

For the Hastie appointment, the Sec- 
retary of War had a World War I 
precedent. In 1917, Newton D. Baker 
had made Emmett J. Scott, secretary to 
Booker T. Washington at Tuskegee, his 
Special Assistant with approximately the 
same purpose in mind— the provision of 
some means of liaison and some source 
of interpretation between the Negro 
public and the War Department. 
Moreover, the appointment of special 
advisers on questions affecting the Negro 
public had been an increasing tendency 
among federal agencies during the pre- 
ceding eight years. 

Judge Hastie undertook his duties on 
1 November 1940. In his letter of 
appointment, Secretary Stimson de- 
scribed these duties to be "to assist in 
the formulation, development and ad- 
ministration of policies looking to the 
fair and effective utilization of Negroes 



l< * Time, November 4, 1940, p. 20. See also Pitts- 
burgh Courier, November 2, 1940; Walter White, 
"It's Our Country, Too," loc. cit.; Editorial, "Negro 
Self-Respect and Politics," The Christian Century, 
LVII (November 13, 1940) , 1403; Ollie Stewart, 
"The Negro— American Nationalist," Scribner's 
Commentator, IX (March, 1941) , 68; Walter White, 
"Brown Americans," Coronet, XVII (November, 
1944). 86- 



in all branches of the military serv- 
ice." 106 The Secretary's letter con- 
tinued: 

I hope that you will be able to assist us 
in the development of and improvements 
in the War Department's plans for the 
organization of Negro units in each major 
branch of the service, and for the utilization 
of Negro reserve officers, candidates for 
commissions, and aviation cadets. I also 
hope that you will be of assistance to us in 
connection with policies involving the em- 
ployment of Negroes on civilian status at 
army establishments and by army contrac- 
tors. 

It will be part of your duties to investi- 
gate complaints concerning the treatment 
of Negroes in the military service or in 
civilian employment in the War Depart- 
ment. In this connection, I hope it will be 
possible for you to spend time visiting 
camps, posts and stations for the purpose of 
observing and reporting to me upon mat- 
ters of Negro participation in the national 
defense. 

It is my expectation that you will 
cooperate with the Negro representatives 
on the Selective Service Committee and in 
the Labor Section of the Advisory 
Commission to the Council of National 
Defense, where appropriate. 

Such recommendations as you may from 
time to time wish to make should be 
submitted to me through the Assistant 
Secretary of War. 

You may be assured that the officers and 
establishments of the War Department will 
cooperate with you in carrying out the tasks 
which I have outlined. Instructions are 
being issued that you be consulted on 
matters affecting Negroes in the army, and 
that all information necessary to the 
effective execution of your duties be made 
available to you. 



108 Ltr, SW to Dean William H. Hastie, 25 Oct 
40, OASW Personnel #301, and Memo, ASW to 
Maj Gen James H. Burns, 25 Oct 40, same file. 
Technically, Hastie was carried on the rolls as 
Head Attorney under Executive Order 8044. 



THE NEGRO POSITION DEFINED 



81 



Judge Hastie considered these mani- 
fold duties to be the "general task of 
facilitating the equitable integration of 
the Negro into so much of the National 
Defense Program as falls within the juris- 
diction of the War Department." 107 
His office, consisting of himself, one as- 
sistant, and a secretary, proceeded to 
gather information from General Staff 
divisions and from the chiefs of arms and 
services in an attempt to determine and 
appraise the existing plans and devel- 
opments in the Army's use of Negro 
troops. Hastie, acting upon the infor- 
mation available to him, initiated 
recommendations, generally through the 
Secretary of the General Staff, occasion- 
ally through one or another of the as- 
sistant chiefs of staff, and at times 
directly to the Assistant Secretary (later, 
Under Secretary) of War, Judge Patter- 
son. Most of the policy proposals 
specifically affecting Negroes were 
referred to the Civilian Aide for com- 
ment, although Judge Hastie complained 
early that too frequently such matters 
did not come to his attention until the 
proposals had been completely formu- 
lated and presented for final approval. 
As a result of the publication of a direc- 
tive concerning the construction of 
welfare and recreational facilities for Ne- 
gro troops on which Judge Hastie had 
not been consulted, the chiefs of arms 
and services and the General Staff divi- 
sions were instructed that "Matters of 
policy which pertain to Negroes, or im- 
portant questions arising thereunder, 
will be referred to Judge William H. 
Hastie, civilian aide to the Secretary of 



'"Memo, Civ Aide for USW, 7 Feb 41, AG 
3*8-97 (3-18-41) (1). 



War, for comment or concurrence before 
final action." 108 

Individual complaints from soldiers 
and civilian employees of the Army, 
proposals and complaints from Negro 
organizations, and problems ranging 
from the employment of Negro hostesses 
and librarians in service clubs to the 
constitution of Negro combat units were 
refen-ed to the Civilian Aide's office 
for comment and consultation. Rou- 
tine requests for information and "daily 
visits and inquiries by persons seeking 
employment" consumed a large part of 
the time of the office and prevented the 
Civilian Aide from giving his full atten- 
tion to the larger aspects of his duties. 109 
Nevertheless, through personal contacts 
with the chiefs of War Department agen- 
cies and through informal inquiries, 
Judge Hastie, in the first few months of 
mobilization, considered a variety of 
questions of major importance, includ- 
ing: the proportionate distribution of 
Negroes in the arms and services; the 
use and training of Negro officers, chap- 
lains, and nurses; recreational and wel- 
fare facilities for Negro troops; the use of 
Negro civilian personnel in Army instal- 
lations; Negroes in Civilian Conserva- 
tion Corps camps; Negroes in National 
Youth Administration projects on Army 
posts and stations; and the relations of 
the War Department with the Negro 
press. 

At the outset Hastie was furnished a 
complete list of existing units and of 
those planned through June 1941. He 

108 Ltr, TAG to Chiefs Arms and Svs and Divs 
of WD Gen Staff, 18 Dec 40, AG 391.21 (12-17- 
40) M-OCS-M, based on Memo, ASW for TAG, 
15 Dec 40, and Memo, SGS for TAG, 17 Dec 40, 
AG 291.21 (12-17-40) (1). 

"•Memo, Civ Aide for USW, 7 Feb 41, AG 
3«-97 (3-18-41) (1). 



82 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



was assured that Negroes would be ex- 
cluded from no arm or service, though 
it was explained that the Armored 
Force was not an arm but a combination 
of arms and services. "There are no 
negro units in the armored corps," G-i 
said, "but there are mechanized units in 
the 9th and 10th Cavalries." 110 Negro 
aviation units, about which Hastie had 
inquired specifically, would follow when 
the National Youth Administration and 
Civil Aeronautics Authority programs 
had trained enough civilian pilots and 
mechanics. "If this program is to be 
safe," G-i said, "it must progress care- 
fully, step by step. Plans are now being 
developed for training of negro military 
pilots, when this program has progressed 
sufficiently to provide the requisite 
ground personnel." Negro officers, den- 
tists, and doctors would be used in the 
three existing National Guard regiments 
and in the one new regiment to be 
formed in February. Nurses would be 
procured for "hospitals which are used 
exclusively for negro patients" and qual- 
ified pharmacists were free to compete 
for Reserve commissions. "With repre- 
sentative units in all arms and services 
the problem of utilization of skilled ne- 
groes is in general no different from that 
of the skilled whites," G-i noted. "The 
utilization of the exceptionally skilled 
white is limited, and it will be the same 
in the case of the negro." In the classifi- 
cation and reception of Negroes at recep- 
tion centers or in the admission of men 
to specialist schools, no discrimination 
would be permitted. Selection for 
schools would depend entirely upon the 
"particular suitability of the selectee for 



110 Memo, G-i for Judge Hastie, ?o Nov 40, G— 1/ 



the duties for which he is to be 
trained." 111 

The Lines Form 

General interest in the question of the 
employment of Negro troops widened 
during the year 1940. A number of 
year-end articles on the subject appeared 
in nationally distributed publications. 
Walter White, secretary of the NAACP, 
summed up his views in the opening 
words of an article: 

From the man-power angle, the largest 
defense headache ahead of the United 
States Government is likely to be the status 
of that 10 per cent of our population which 
is Negro. The Negro insists upon doing his 
part, and the Army and Navy want none of 
him. 112 

To a large extent, despite the War De- 
partment's announced expansion of its 
employment of Negroes, White's brief 
picture was correct. The use and status 
of Negro manpower did become one of 
the major "headaches" of the war. What 
White did not state was that a profound 
difference in interpretation of the Ne- 
gro's "part" existed. There were those 
who insisted that there was no possible 
meeting ground between the two oppos- 
ing points of view. 

Many Negroes saw no way in which 

111 Ibid. 

112 Walter White, "It's Our Country, Too," loc. 
cit. Among other articles appearing at about the 
same time were: "Role of the Negro in National 
Defense," School and Society, LII (December 7, 
1940) , 580; Mrs. F. D. Roosevelt, "Defense and 
the Minority Group," Opportunity, XVIII (De- 
cember, 1940), 356-58; Paul E. Bowen, "The His- 
torical Background of the Negro as Soldier," 
Virginia Teachers Bulletin, XVII (November, 
1940) , 29-31; Lawrence Sullivan, "Negro Vote," 
Atlantic Monthly, CLXVI (October, 1940), 477-94; 
Metz Lochard, "Negroes and Defense," Nation, 
CLII (January 4, 1941) , 14-16. 



THE NEGRO POSITION DEFINED 



83 



any denial of the individual's right to 
serve in any capacity for which he was 
fitted, without reference to race, could be 
reconciled with the professed ideals for 
which the war was being fought. With 
appeals to democracy and continued 
obeisance to the ideal of the dignity of 
the individual highly in evidence as 
justifications for the struggle in which 
the world was locked, Negroes contin- 
ued to point out discrepancies in the 
active expression of the "democratic 
faith" so frequently propounded by the 
heads of the government. "A lily-white 
navy cannot fight for a free world. A 
jim crow army cannot fight for a free 
world. Jim crow strategy, no matter 
on how grand a scale, cannot build a 
free world," The Crisis said immedi- 
ately after Pearl Harbor. 113 

The Army, on the other hand, in- 
sisted that its job was not to alter Ameri- 
can social customs but to create a 
fighting machine with a maximum econ- 
omy of time and effort. The War De- 
partment made it clear that it saw no 
point in debating "at every point" policy 
decisions already made, for though it 
would answer specific inquiries, it felt 
that Negroes, and especially the NAACP, 
were simply trying to keep alive a con- 
troversy which served no valid military 
purpose in time of national crisis. 114 
The War Department felt, moreover, 
that it had offered Negroes the oppor- 
tunity to serve in all capacities and that 
that itself was a major removal of dis- 
criminatory barriers and a major con- 
cession. From the Army's viewpoint, 



Editorial, "Now Is the Time Not to Be Silent," 
The Crisis, XLIX (January, 1942) , 7. 

1U Ltr, TAG to Dr. Amanda V. G. Hillyer, Chair- 
man Program Committee, D.C. Branch, NAACP, 
is Apr 41, AG 2gi.2i (2-28-41) (1). 



the promise of proportional use of Ne- 
groes in all types of units provided more 
opportunities for service than Negroes 
were able to take advantage of. Sep- 
arate units continued segregation, but 
the Army felt that segregation was a 
practice which it had found in the 
civilian community and which it had no 
right to alter until the civilian commu- 
nity itself had changed its own methods 
or had given the Army, through the Con- 
gress, a clear mandate to do so. 

The Selective Service Act had ordered 
that inductees be selected and trained 
without discrimination and, the War 
Department reiterated, it did not itself 
discriminate against any of its soldiers. 
Here was one of the major points of 
disagreement, for, as shown in the Con- 
gressional debates on the inclusion of 
nondiscriminatory clauses in the Selec- 
tive Service Act, the distinction between 
discrimination and segregation in nor- 
mal usage was not always clear. The 
meaning of these terms then and later 
depended in large measure upon the 
view of the user. Segregation, imply- 
ing only separation, was often con- 
sidered nondiscriminatory by those who 
believed that equal facilities and oppor- 
tunities could be provided to both races. 
To others, including most Negroes, the 
concept of enforced segregation was it- 
self discriminatory. The fact of separa- 
tion not only prevented freedom of 
movement and action on the part of the 
segregated minority (and was therefore 
considered an abridgment of basic per- 
sonal liberties) but also produced in- 
equalities of facilities and opportunities 
for the minority. The minority, be- 
ing numerically smaller and weaker, had 
no means of enforcing guarantees of 
equal facilities and opportunities. 



84 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Moreover, the argument ran, the very 
act of formal segregation implied in- 
escapable differences among men which 
made common action impossible and 
which, by denying the common aims 
and similar objectives of men was, per 
se, discriminatory. On the other hand 
the courts, through World War II, held 
that segregation, as such, was not dis- 
criminatory where equal facilities were 
provided. Field commanders therefore 
saw nothing anomalous in announcing 
that their racial policy was "segregation 
without discrimination" or that no 
discrimination could exist in a command 
or camp which had Negro enlisted men 
only. 

To those for whom the aspirations of 
Negroes were a cause, no amount of 
special consideration in the way of sep- 
arate units of diverse types was compen- 
sation for the continuing conviction that 
the root of all difficulties in the Army's 
use of Negro manpower lay in the restric- 
tion of Negroes to these particular segre- 
gated units. The crowning irony to 
many Negroes was that the Army, while 
insisting upon separate units, did not go 
all the way in its segregated pattern and 
insist that these units be commanded 
wholly by Negro, and not by white, of- 
ficers. "We deplore segregation in any 
form," said Professor Rayford Logan, 
representing ten Negro organizations and 
speaking for seven co-witnesses in 1940, 
"especially when it is practiced by the 
Federal Government. But in accepting 
these separate units which are forced 
upon us, we do so only because of the 
hope that these units will be com- 
manded by Negro officers." 115 

°* Hearings, Senate, Military Establishment Ap- 
propriation Bill for 1941 (H.R. 920$), 14 May 40, p. 
365- 



Negroes therefore used their political 
pressures in two directions: the first 
toward the elimination of segregation 
and discrimination in the extension of 
the use of Negro manpower, and the 
second in an attempt to exploit to the 
fullest the possibilities for the use of 
Negroes within a segregated system. 

The conflict between the self-defined 
interests of the Army and of Negroes con- 
tinued throughout the war. Ap- 
peals to political power were made by 
both sides, but no clear legislative de- 
cision was reached. Segregation as a 
concept remained the root question af- 
fecting the cleavage between the Negro 
public and the Army; it was basic to 
Negro soldiers' attitudes toward the 
Army and the war; it was useful for 
political campaign purposes; and it pro- 
vided a convenient basket to catch most 
of the problems arising in the employ- 
ment of Negro troops. Yet it was seldom 
mentioned in a direct way by either 
Negroes or the Army during the war, for 
it was easier to place greater stress upon 
the many other facets of difficulty which 
the employment of Negro troops pro- 
vided. Negroes emphasized clearly 
discriminatory practices growing out of 
segregation, such as the lack of oppor- 
tunities for advancement, differentials in 
facilities, and limitations upon employ- 
ment. The Army emphasized the low 
classification scores, the lack of voca- 
tional skills, and other real or apparent 
deficiencies of Negroes which, though 
admittedly they might be the result of 
deprivations in civilian life, obviously, 
in the Army's view, prevented Negroes 
from carrying their full share of the 
military load. These alone, not to 
speak of civilian patterns in the sections 
of the country from which most Negroes 



THE NEGRO POSITION DEFINED 



85 



came, were sufficient argument, from 
the Army's point of view, to oppose the 
end of separate units. 

But there was other support for their 
maintenance. In an opinion survey 
conducted in March 1943, the Office of 
War Information found that nine out 
of ten whites in five key cities felt that 
white and Negro troops should be kept 
separate, while eight out of ten Negroes 
in the same cities were opposed to seg- 
regation. 116 It was obvious that both 
whites and Negroes could not be satisfied 
on this point if public opinion was to 
decide the question. 

It could be expected that the Army 
would attempt to avoid as much as pos- 
sible the difficulties arising out of pro- 
viding units for Negroes. The simplest 
method would have been to reduce the 
number of Negroes entering the Army to 
a minimum, though under the Selective 
Service Act this could not be done 
legally. But there might be other 
ways. There were the protective 
clauses in Section 3 which provided that 
no man should be inducted "unless and 
until he is acceptable to the land or 
naval forces" and until "adequate pro- 
vision shall have been made for such 
shelter, sanitary facilities, water supplies, 
heating and lighting arrangements, 
medical care, and hospital accommoda- 
tions. . . ." There were always actual 
shortages of housing, equipment, and 
units for Negroes. Educational and lit- 
erary qualifications might be placed at 
a point where large numbers of Negroes 
could be excluded. 

113 OWI, The Negroes' Role in the War: A Study 
of White and Colored Opinions (Memorandum 
59, Surveys Division, Bureau of Special Services) , 
8 Jul 43. This survey was conducted in five cities: 
Birmingham, Raleigh, Oklahoma City, Chicago, 
and Detroit. 



But the Negro public and its sympa- 
thizers, remembering World War I 
and now more potent politically than 
twenty years before, watched carefully 
for any evidence of failure to adhere 
fully to the terms of stated policy. 
Moreover, white citizens in areas with 
sizable Negro populations did not take 
kindly to the deferment of large num- 
bers of Negroes while white men were 
being drafted. A stream of letters con- 
tinued to come into the White House 
and the War Department; congressmen 
were kept busy with inquiries from their 
constituents; delegations and lobbyists 
arrived in Washington with great regu- 
larity; new and different points of at- 
tack were discovered as soon as older ones 
were cleared up or answered. All of 
these added up to continuous public 
pressure, backed by the possibility of 
further political pressures. 

For Negroes as a whole, throughout 
the war, felt that "Our boys in camps 
[are] being treated so bad"; "They're not 
being given a farr chance"; and "They're 
putting up their lives for nothing to 
fight for." 117 Relatively few felt that 
their sons' chances were good in any of 
the armed services; only three out of ten 
felt that their chances for advancement 
in the Army included a chance for a 
commission. Few felt that their troops 
would actually be used in battle. 
Nearly all reported less than full con- 
fidence in the Army's desire to use Negro 
manpower to the fullest possible ex- 
tent. 118 In voicing their disapproval of 
the assignment of the majority of Negro 
troops to noncombatant duties, most 
Negroes simply said, "This is supposed 



117 OWI, The Negroes' Role in the War. 
™Ibid. 



86 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



to be a colored man's country, too," or 
"We should all fight side by side." A 
few added "They [the whites] will say 
we did not fight and were behind the 
lines, so that they can keep us behind 
after it's over." 119 Their leaders 
summed up their position in the slogan 
that Negroes had to fight for the right to 
fight. 120 

Interest in the progress of plans for 
defense continued high among Negroes. 
When interest slackened the Negro press 
awakened it. The biggest single bloc 
of news to become available in years was 
that dealing with opportunities for 
Negroes in defense preparations, civil- 
ian as well as military. Despite the 
expansion of defense industries, as 1940 
closed the unemployment rate among 
Negroes had been cut only slightly over 
that of the darkest depression years. 
The possibility of enlistment in the 
armed forces had so much greater appeal 
and promise for impoverished but am- 
bitious youth than the CCC or the 
NYA that papers needed to do little to 
awaken the interest of their readers. 

As a source of news about Negro 
troops, the Negro press was unchal- 
lenged, for few general circulation dailies 
carried the normal press releases about 
the activities of Negro troops. The im- 
portance of these papers in molding 
attitudes and affecting the morale of the 
youths who would become the Negro 
troops of World War II was very great. 
Long before entering the Army many 
Negroes had formed definite opinions 
of their chances in the armed forces 
from their reading of the Negro press and 



"» Ibid. 

150 Cf. Walter White, "It's Our CountTy, Too," 
loc. cit.; The Journal of Negro Education, XII 
(Summer, 1943) . 



from the inevitable family and barber- 
shop discussions which followed. Few 
felt that their chances for advancement 
or fair treatment were good, but most 
knew that new opportunities were pos- 
sible daily. The importance of news of 
the armed forces to the Negro press, evi- 
dent though it was in the first months 
of mobilization when the front pages of 
Negro papers were filled with news of 
the armed services, was not fully real- 
ized within the War Department until 
later in the war. Only then was a 
serious effort made to supply the missing 
details and add to the variety and 
veracity of the many armed forces stories 
carried by the Negro papers, thereby 
reducing, though not completely remov- 
ing, the aura of mutual distrust sur- 
rounding relations between the Army 
and the Negro press. 

At the end of 1940 it was not possible 
to answer all the questions raised by the 
newly announced policies on the em- 
ployment of Negro troops. Some were 
not yet asked. A certain tally was, 
however, possible. The Congress had 
passed a Selective Service Act with non- 
discriminatory clauses. The War De- 
partment, urged by pressures generated 
by the political temper of an election 
year, had announced a basic policy call- 
ing for a proportionate use and distri- 
bution of Negro troops. The Army had 
begun the expansion of its Negro units 
and it had acquired its first Negro gen- 
eral officer. The Secretary of War had 
acquired an adviser on Negro affairs. 

Future actions of the War Department 
and the Army were critically awaited 
by the Negro public. Negro selective 
service men had not yet begun to be 
called into the new Army. How the 
new policy on proportionate Negro 



THE NEGRO POSITION DEFINED 



87 



representation in Army strength would 
work out, how the Army would provide 
units in all its major branches, was still 
anyone's guess. Actually, neither Ne- 
groes nor the Army had high hopes for 
the immediate rapid expansion of Negro 
strength. No one in 1940 foresaw the 
huge size to which the Army would 
ultimately grow or, by virtue of the pro- 
portionate representation policy, the 
unprecedented numbers of Negroes 
which the Army was committed to take 
and use. Too many details, ranging 
from such homely matters as providing 
training facilities for the new draftees 



to more world-shaking questions of in- 
ternational strategy had yet to be worked 
out. At the end of the year the major 
questions affecting the employment of 
Negro troops were distinctly of the 
homelier, though by no means unim- 
portant, variety. Upon these homely 
questions and upon the pressures which 
they generated, rather than upon the 
broad outlines of policy as laid down 
in mobilization plans or as dictated by 
the changing military situation, de- 
pended the decisions around which the 
employment of Negro manpower in 
World War II developed. 



CHAPTER IV 



Expanding Negro Strength 



From the beginning of World War II 
in Europe to Pearl Harbor the active 
Negro enlisted strength of the Army in- 
creased more than twenty-five-fold, from 
3,640 men on 31 August 1939 to 97,725 
on 30 November 1941. 1 By the end of 
December 1942, Negro enlisted strength 
had risen to 467, 883.* As already noted 
this expansion, like the expansion of 
the whole Army, was far greater than 
prewar plans had contemplated. In 
achieving its Negro strength the Army 
faced and overcame many administra- 
tive problems. Others it was unable to 
solve. Many of these problems revolved 
about the question of maintaining a 
proportional balance between Negroes 
and whites, a question that was ever- 
present between 1941 and 1943. It 
affected most of the normal processes 
incident to the expansion of over-all 
Army strength. 

The Army's difficulty in making room 
for additional Negroes meant much more 
than a simple adjustment to large num- 
bers of Negro inductees. The expan- 
sion of the Army to its maximum 
authorized strength was theoretically 
limited only by the nation's manpower, 
by appropriations, and by the Army's 
ability to provide training facilities. 



1 Misc Div AGO, Returns Sec, g Oct 39, 30 Nov 
41. 

s Tab B, Memo, G-3 for CGs AGF and SOS, 25 
Jan 43, WDGCT 320.2 Gen {1-25-43) . 



Training facilities involved not only the 
need for new housing and equipment 
but also plans for new units, cadres, 
training and replacement centers, and 
officers to supervise training and tactical 
units. All too frequently one or more 
of these elements were unready or un- 
available in carrying out the expansion 
as planned. These uncertainties af- 
fected white trainees too, but not to the 
same extent as Negro trainees, for white 
units existed in all branches and in most 
types. Existing units could provide for 
the relatively orderly reception and 
training of white recruits, but the few 
Regular Negro units were unable to form 
the needed base for the twenty-five -fold 
increase in Negro strength before De- 
cember 1941. In the fall of 1940, Negro 
recruits destined for most arms and 
services were assured neither units, bil- 
lets, nor training cadres. 

Initial Expansion 

The plan of 1937 for the utilization of 
Negro manpower in the event of mobil- 
ization had provided for an initial rate 
of increase of Negro strength which 
would be higher than that for whites in 
order to bring the proportion of Negroes 
in the Army up to their proportion in 
the available manpower of military age. 
Thereafter, the rate of increase was to 
continue at the level of the population 



EXPANDING NEGRO STRENGTH 



89 



ratio. Since separate Negro units were 
to be continued, all calculations had to 
be based on a close accounting of men 
by race. The development of the 
necessary administrative machinery for 
determining and controlling racial 
quotas presented immediate difficulties. 
Furthermore, since the census of 1940 
had not been completed by the time the 
Selective Service Act went into effect, 
the exact proportions and the geograph- 
ical distribution of Negroes in the man- 
power of military age were not available 
until Selective Service registration 
figures could be compiled. The dual 
method of receiving men by ordinary 
volunteer enlistments and through in- 
ductions, the latter including volunteers 
who entered the Army through Selective 
Service, complicated the matter of fixing 
quotas by race. Quota calls, fixed by 
the Army, had also to be adjusted to 
the availability of housing and units as 
well as to the rate of acceptance of volun- 
teers. 

To make matters even more complex, 
in the first year of mobilization a little 
more than 13 percent of those classified 
I-A (available for immediate induc- 
tion) were Negroes instead of the 9 or 10 
percent expected. The 3 or 4 percent 
variation from the estimate may not ap- 
pear to have been very far off, but when 
this percentage was applied to large 
numbers of men it made a considerable 
difference, in this case, forty to fifty 
thousand additional men. As time 
went on, the proportion of Negroes in 
Class I— A showed every likelihood of 
increasing instead of diminishing. Rel- 
atively few Negroes had industrial, tech- 
nical, and professional jobs that carried 
a deferred classification. Proportion- 
ately more Negroes than whites were 



therefore available for Class I-A. 
Neither the Navy nor the Marine Corps 
used Selective Service in the first years 
of the draft and neither accepted Ne- 
groes, except that the Navy used them as 
messmen and in a few other classifica- 
tions. White volunteers for the naval 
services were likely to reduce further the 
proportion of whites as compared to 
Negroes in the Selective Service Class 
I-A category. 

If "the balance of Negro and white 
manpower" was to be maintained, quota 
calls had to be divided not only among 
the nine corps areas and subsequently 
into state and local board quotas but 
also into racial quotas within those areas 
according to local racial distributions. 
To add to the administrative complex- 
ities of the situation, the Army, basing 
its theory on World War I test scores 
and actual distribution of skills among 
Negroes, desired proportionately more 
Northern than Southern Negroes for 
technical and combat units. As if these 
complications were not enough, no final 
decisions on locations, types of units, or 
housing facilities for Negro selectees had 
been made by the fall and winter of 
1940-41. Several branches— notably the 
Signal Corps and the Air Corps— were 
still attempting to avoid accepting any 
Negroes, and others were attempting to 
keep their number as small as possible. 
All of these factors helped to delay the 
mobilization of the Negro portion of the 
Army considerably, and as a result the 
expansion of the Army began without 
obtaining anything like the officially de- 
sired initial proportionate balancing of 
white and Negro troops. 

Since calls for Negro troops, according 
to the Selective Service Act and accord- 
ing to the laws of chance by which the 



90 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



draft lottery was operated, should have 
occurred on the whole at the same rate 
as for white troops, Selective Service 
proceeded to classify Negroes as their 
names appeared on local board listings. 
When their numbers were reached, Se- 
lective Service, lacking sufficient Army 
requisitions for the numbers of Negroes 
available, sent them "notices of selec- 
tion." These notices indicated that the 
recipients had been selected for induc- 
tion and that they would be ordered to 
report at a later date— how far off Selec- 
tive Service could not say. Many Ne- 
groes quit or lost their jobs because of 
these notices. Some, not actually in- 
ducted for months, complained bitterly 
about the delay and about their resulting 
unemployment, for employers were re- 
luctant to hire a man who already had a 
notice of selection. Of course delayed 
inductions affected white as well as 
Negro inductees, but in a much lower 
proportion of instances. 

With the low and uncertain economic 
position of Negroes as the dominant fac- 
tor and with the "passed over" policy 
as an added incentive, many Negroes 
volunteered through Selective Service. 
As of 30 September 1941, the number 
of Negro volunteers was 38,538, or 16.1 
percent of the total number of volun- 
teers entering the Army through Selec- 
tive Service and more than a third of all 
the Negroes in the Army. Of the volun- 
teers awaiting induction on this date, 
25.3 percent were Negroes. 3 The vol- 
unteer-through-Selective-Service figures 
were made higher because of an addi- 
tional factor: it was still almost impos- 
sible for Negroes to volunteer through 

3 Selective Service in Peacetime: First Report of 
the Director of Selective Service, 1940-41 (Wash- 
ington, 1942) , p. 256. 



regular recruiting stations. All volun- 
teers moved to the top of local Selective 
Service board lists without regard to 
race. In some cases, the rate of Negro 
volunteering was so high that local 
boards did not have to call on selectees 
at all to fill their quotas. 

Calls for Negroes up through January 
1941 were deferred. The February call 
was for but a small part of the Negroes 
originally allotted for that month. In 
New York, for example, 900 Negroes 
were selected in January 1941 and noti- 
fied to expect induction in February. 
Because of construction delays at Fort 
Devens, Mass., where they were to have 
been sent, approximately 500 of these 
men were not inducted in February but 
were carried over to March. Those 
originally scheduled for the February 
and March calls were consequently de- 
layed. In the District of Columbia, 
1,100 white men and no Negroes at all 
were called for March. 4 

Time did not improve the situation. 
By September 1941, the total number 
of Negroes passed over and awaiting 
induction was 27,986, with the possibil- 
ity that 17,399 of these would remain 
uncalled on 1 January 1942. To these, 
the Negroes who were reached in Octo- 
ber, November, and December and were 
not to be inducted in those months had 
to be added. 5 For February 1942, the 
voluntary enlistment of Negroes 
through recruiting stations was reduced 
to fifty a week— five from each corps area. 
The March selectees were reduced to a 
minimum in an attempt to avoid the 
threatened congestion of available hous- 
ing in reception centers, units, and in- 

'Ibid., pp. 254-56. 

5 Incl to Ltr, Dir Selective Sv to SW, 4 Oct 41, 
AG 324.71 (10-4-41). 



EXPANDING NEGRO STRENGTH 



91 



stallations. 6 By early 1943, the War 
Manpower Commission estimated that 
approximately 300,000 Negroes had been 
passed over to fill white calls. 7 

Some local boards protested vigor- 
ously. "We do hereby record our be- 
lief and opinion," an Ohio local board 
wrote, "that the February call for nine 
white men is unfair, unjust, and dis- 
criminatory against both the white and 
colored races. This arbitrary method 
of induction of men by color rather than 
by order number we believe is a flagrant 
and totalitarian violation of both the 
letter and spirit of the law." 8 South 
Carolina boards likewise objected that 
too few Negro selectees were being 
called. 9 The Director of Selective Serv- 
ice warned: 

This genera] situation permits both Ne- 
groes who have volunteered for induction 
and white men who have higher order 
numbers, but who are inducted before the 
Negroes with lower order numbers, to 
claim, whether justified or not, that there is 
discrimination contrary to the provisions of 
the law. 10 

He recommended that "unusual efforts" 
be made to bring requisitions for each 
state into line with the racial distribu- 
tion of the population of the state. 
This situation did not grow up over- 



Memo, G-i for TAG, and Memo for Record, 
31 Jan 42, G-1/15640-135; Rad, TAG to CG's 
Corps Areas, 4 Feb 42, AG 342 (1-31-42) E-R-A. 

' Ltr, Paul V. McNutt, Chairman War Manpower 
Commission, to SW, 17 Feb 43, AG 324.71 (2- 
17-43) • 

8 "Resolution— Protest," Selective Sv Local Bd 13, 
Cuyahoga County, Ohio, 3 Feb 41, Incl to Ltr, 
Dir Selective Sv System to SW, 14 Feb 41, AG 
324.71 (9-19-40), sec. 1. Italics in original. 

•Memo, G—3 for TAG, 26 Feb 42, and attached 
Memo for Record, G-3 6547-399. 

w Ltr, C. A. Dykstra, Dir Selective Sv System, to 
SW, 14 Feb 41, AG 324.71 (9-19-40) sec. 1. 



night, nor was the War Department 
unaware of the possibility of its develop- 
ment. From the time of the debates on 
the Selective Service Act, the General 
Staff divisions had warned of the neces- 
sity for prompt action to prevent such 
a racial imbalance in the expanding 
forces. But the staff divisions could not 
agree on how, short of strict induction 
by order number, such a situation could 
be prevented. Induction by order num- 
ber, the staff divisions feared, might 
produce what was considered an even 
more undesirable imbalance: a tre- 
mendous disproportion of Negroes in 
comparison with whites which would, 
at the end of the first year's training, be 
followed by a reverse imbalance. 

In October 1940, G-i urged that the 
War Department make provision to 
bring the Army's proportion of Negroes 
up to 10 percent, since new census esti- 
mates indicated that, instead of the ex- 
pected 9 percent provided for in the 1 940 
PMP, 10.07 percent of the population af- 
fected by the draft would be Negroes. 
"The longer the delay in setting up such 
requirements," the Personnel Division 
warned, "the greater will be the number 
of Negroes which will ultimately have 
to be taken to meet the requirements 
of the law and satisfy public demand." 11 
Though G-3 objected that disruption 
of construction of housing and hospital- 
ization facilities or an increase in the 
number of Negroes in overhead would 
result, the War Department, in Decem- 
ber 1940, directed that the troop basis for 
the distribution of trainees be refigured 
so that by July 1941 10 percent of the 



"Memo, G-i for CofS, 21 Oct 40, AG 381 (8- 
31-39) (1) sec. 1. 



92 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



men in training under the Selective 
Service Act would be Negroes. 12 

Answering Selective Service's objec- 
tions to the disproportionately low ac- 
ceptances o£ Negro selectees, the War 
Department explained that it had been 
impossible to take a "proper percentage 
of negroes because of lack of shelter and 
cadres." The department promised Se- 
lective Service that it would "make 
every effort" to keep the proportions of 
white and Negro selectees balanced if 
Selective Service would keep a check on 
the states to prevent them from placing 
"an undue proportion" of Negroes in 
Class I-A. 1S 

In March 1941, G-3 estimated that 
because of their higher rate of volunteer- 
ing, their lower economic status, and 
their consequent lower percentage of 
draft deferment, the proportion of Ne- 
groes entering the Army might go as 
high as 14 percent. Replacement cen- 
ter allocations should therefore be in- 
creased to provide for a 13 to 14 percent 
proportion of Negro selectees and exist- 
ing Negro units should be brought up to 
full strength. An infantry replacement 
center for Negroes should be established 
at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, and a 10 
percent overstrength should be author- 
ized for Negro units and overhead troops. 
To provide for additional Negro troops, 
new construction and the substitution 
of Negroes for white troops to the extent 
necessary were recommended. G-3 
observed as well that, unless the War 
Department made reasonably prompt 

12 Memo, OCS for G-i, 26 Nov 40, AG 381 (8- 
31-39) sec. 1; Ltr, TAG to CG's, Corps Area 
Comdrs, etc., 11 Dec 40, AG 381 (10-21-40) 
M-A-M. 

"Memo, G-i for CofS, ao Feb 41, G-1/15640-79; 
Ltr, Actg SW to Dr. C. A. Dykstra, Dir Selective 
Sv System, 24 Feb 41, AG 324.71 (2-14-41) M. 



provisions for the induction of Negroes, 
legal action might compel it to do so. 14 

The Supply Division pointed out that 
it would be more economical to convert 
white units in the PMP to Negro and use 
existing or planned housing rather than 
construct additional housing especially 
for Negroes. G-4 estimated that $13,- 
554,400 would be needed to build a re- 
placement center at Fort Huachuca and 
to provide the additional construction 
needed elsewhere for the accommodation 
of Negro selectees. 15 Maj. Gen. William 
Bryden, Deputy Chief of Staff, agreed 
that this expenditure was not justified. 
Housing vacated by National Guard 
units departing at the end of their year's 
training might be used by Negroes. 
Moreover, General Bryden felt, if the 
Army refused to induct illiterates the 
number of Negro selectees would be 
reduced. 16 The G-3 recommendations 
were approved by the Chief of Staff 
with the stipulation that no additional 
construction was to be authorized. 
Temporary overstrength was to be 
housed in tents, and if necessary excess 
personnel was to be sent direct to units 
instead of to replacement centers. 17 

When the first requisitions for induc- 
tees were submitted to the states by 
corps area commanders in November 
1940, it was impossible to determine by 
race the number that would appear. 
Some states had not broken their regis- 



" Memo, G-3 for CofS, and attached papers, 
10 Mar 41, G-3/654i-Gen-527- 

"Memo, G-4 for CofS, 11 Apr 41, G-4/31981. 
Earlier, G-4 had suggested unit conversions as an 
economy measure. Cf., Memo, G-4 for G-i, 13 Nov 
40, AG 381 (8-31-39) sec. 1. 

"Memo, DCofS for CofS, 26 Apr 41, OCS 20602- 
161. 

17 Memo, OCofS for G-3, 5 May 41, OCS/2o6o2- 
161, 



EXPANDING NEGRO STRENGTH 



93 



trants down by color. Only the Fourth 
Corps Area 18 submitted requisitions to 
the states by color, and the Fourth was 
able to do so only because delays in con- 
struction caused a corresponding delay 
in the submission of the corps area's 
requisitions. This delay gave the com- 
manding general time to request 
permission of the War Department to 
submit, on his first call, separate re- 
quests for whites and Negroes. 19 An 
excess of men over available space was 
likely in any event, for the National 
Guard units already inducted had 
brought more men than anticipated. 
The allotted strength of Guard units 
had been increased for the fiscal year 
1941 and many of these units had re- 
cruited to full peacetime strength. A 
number of inactive Guardsmen had 
also been called to duty. Moreover, 
Regular Army enlistments under the 
authorized increase from 242,000 to 
375,000 enlisted men had exceeded ex- 
pectations. As a result of shelter short- 
ages, instructions were sent to all corps 
area commanders directing them to spec- 
ify the numbers of men desired by color 
in all future periods. 20 Since no informa- 
tion on the total number of Negroes and 
whites who would be inducted would 
be available until the first induction 
period closed on 28 November, all corps 
area commanders were authorized to use 
reception centers for temporary assign- 



18 Of corps areas, the Fourth (the southeastern 
states, excluding Virginia and Kentucky) contained 
by far the largest number and percentages of 
Negroes. 

™ Memo, G-i for the CofS, 8 Nov 40, AG 324.71 
(1 1-8-40) . 

"WD Ltr, AG 324.71 (10-15-40), dated 17 Oct 
40, had already provided tor requisitions by color, 
but this provision had been canceled, 



ments to take care of any excess in either 
race. 

This did not settle the matter. The 
First Corps Area (New England) dis- 
covered that Connecticut boards were 
not inducting by color. The First's 
requisitions had to be increased to cover 
this contingency. It was instructed to 
hold at Fort Devens Reception Center 
any excess Negroes who might appear. 
They could be used in the 336th Infan- 
try, scheduled for activation in February 
1941. 21 

Corps areas were not mutually exclu- 
sive organizations in the disposition of 
selectees. The Fourth Corps Area, by 
its own request, was given authority to 
submit requisitions to the states for 
5,500 white and 1,000 Negro men. But 
the Second Corps Area (New York, New 
Jersey, and Delaware) was authorized to 
ship 500 Negroes to Fort Benning, 
Georgia, in the Fourth Corps Area for 
the 24th Infantry and 290 to Fort 
Huachuca, Arizona, in the Eighth Corps 
Area (southwestern states) for the 25th 
Infantry. The commanding general of 
the Fourth Corps Area radioed the War 
Department that shelter was not avail- 
able at Benning for the 24th's new men. 
The Second Corps Area was then in- 
structed to ship no men to Benning but 
to send the entire 790 to the 25th In- 
fantry. 22 

The result was that for several months 
Negro inductees were assigned to units 
neither by occupational specialities, by 
educational background, by tested apti- 
tudes, nor by any other classification 
method. They were assigned accord- 

a Memo, G-i for TAG, 23 Dec 40, AG 324.71 
(12-23-40) (1) . 

22 Memo, G-i for TAG, 20 Nov 40, AG 324.71 
(11-18-40) . 



94 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



ing to the numbers of men received and 
according to the availability of space in 
units. A unit which required 250 men in 
order to reach its authorized strength 
would not receive them if its station had 
no additional housing for Negro troops, 
while a unit which needed no addi- 
tional men but whose post had available 
housing might be swamped with succes- 
sive increments of men. Normally, re- 
ception centers assigned men on the 
basis of occupational skills, in accord- 
ance with tables which had been worked 
out for each branch of service, and, 
later, for each type of unit. These 
tables showed the approximate propor- 
tion of each occupational speciality 
which a given type of unit would re- 
quire. But so long as replacement 
centers were not receiving Negroes and 
so long as the number of Negro units 
was small, Negro selectees had to be as- 
signed primarily on the basis of the 
numbers and not the types of men re- 
quired. The new Negro units, from the 
beginning of the expansion of Negro 
strength, therefore received large num- 
bers of men who did not fit the needs of 
the unit. This was frequently true for 
white units as well, but seldom for the 
same reasons and seldom with so little 
probability of correction. 

The 41st Engineer General Service 
Regiment, one of the new units activated 
in August 1940, discovered by the end 
of December 1940 that most of its selec- 
tees did not have "the qualities of intel- 
ligence, education and initiative highly 
enough developed to qualify them for 
duty in a general service regiment." 23 
Engineer general service regiments 
were supposed to be able to do all types 

^Ltr, OCofE to TAG, 24 Jan 41, AG 324.71 
(1-24-41) (1) sec. 12. 



of engineer work in army areas, includ- 
ing construction of roads and bridges 
and operation of utilities. The un- 
skilled labor unit with which these units 
were often confused was the engineer 
separate battalion. It was not widely 
realized that general service regiments 
required a high percentage of skilled 
labor and a relatively high average of 
ability on the part of the individual 
men. The Chief of Engineers recom- 
mended that reception centers send only 
men of average or better classification 
to these units. The War Department 
in denying his request stated that it was 
impossible, at the time, to assign Ne- 
groes on any other than a numerical 
basis. It suggested that whenever new 
Negro engineer units with lower require- 
ments, such as separate battalions, be- 
came available, the 41st could transfer 
its unsuitable men to these units. 24 

The 7th Aviation Squadron illus- 
trated the opposite effect of assignment 
by availability. Aviation squadrons 
were, primarily, labor units assigned to 
air bases. Of the 7th Squadron's 220 
men, most of whom had come from the 
Middle Atlantic States, approximately 
half had high school and college train- 
ing at a time when new combat units 
were bemoaning the lack of adequately 
schooled selectees. The occupational 
qualifications of the men in this unit, 
as compared with their educational 
qualifications, illustrated another major 
difficulty in organizing new Negro units. 
Despite the relatively high educational 
qualifications of the men of this unit, 
few skilled occupations were repre- 
sented. Aside from teachers and stu- 
dents, the better-trained men, on the 

21 Memo, G-i for TAG, 1 Feb 41, and 1st Ind, 
5 Feb 41, both in AG 324.71 (1-24-41) (1) sec. 12. 



EXPANDING NEGRO STRENGTH 



95 



average, had no higher occupational 
skills than the less well trained men. 
Most of those with a year or more of 
college training had been working as 
porters, shipping clerks, sales clerks, 
maintenance men, bartenders, chauf- 
feurs, kitchen helpers, and miners. 
What secondary skills these men might 
have had could not be determined from 
their occupational histories. The more 
highly skilled men, such as auto me- 
chanics, sheet metal workers, power 
pressmen, factory foremen, carpenters, 
and photographers were seldom high 
school graduates. The relationship of 
jobs to education was directly related 
to the prewar economic status of Ne- 
groes. Young graduates of high schools 
and colleges had had to take whatever 
jobs were available; skilled jobs were 
scarce. Nevertheless x Judge Hastie felt 
that these men, despite the misuse of 
their training in civilian life, would have 
been more useful in technical and com- 
bat units than in the squadron to which 
they were assigned. 25 

In an attempt to rectify the situation 
produced by numerical assignment 
without specific relation to qualifica- 
tions, a series of shifts in procurement 
requisitions took place in the spring of 
1941. Fifty semiliterate selectees, to be 
employed as aircraft hands, painters, 
mess attendants, and guards, were or- 
dered transferred from the 34th Coast 
Artillery Brigade (AA) to the Air Corps 
at Chanute Field, Illinois. These men 
were to be replaced by fifty relatively 
skilled men— receiving and shipping 
clerks, electricians, automobile mechan- 



25 Memos, Civ Aide to SW for TAG, 5 Sep 41 
and 21 Oct 41, both in AG 327.31 (9-19-41) (1) 
sec. 12; Memo, G-i for TAG, 29 Oct 41, G-i/ 
8645-76S. 



ics, metal workers, radio operators, and 
draftsmen— from the Second Corps 
Area. The shift was explained as neces- 
sary in order to give the 34th Brigade a 
better distribution of intelligence and 
skills. The Second Corps Area, it was 
thought, could best provide the skilled 
men desired by the 34th and at the same 
time provide the skilled men needed to 
complete the Chanute Field require- 
ment, while the 34th Brigade could pro- 
vide the unskilled men needed at 
Chanute from its own oveiabundant 
supply of untrained men. 26 

Similarly, a requisition on the Sixth 
Corps Area (Michigan, Wisconsin, and 
Illinois) for 596 selectees for shipment 
to the Ordnance Replacement Center at 
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, 
was canceled. The 34th Brigade was 
directed to send 300 low scoring selec- 
tees to Aberdeen. The Second Corps 
Area would send 596 selectees to the 
34th Brigade with qualifications deter- 
mined by antiaircraft regimental tables 
of organization, and 296 men to the 
Ordnance Replacement Center. The 
reasoning was the same: some 300 men 
of the Fourth Corps' 34th Brigade were 
in low classification grades or illiterate; 
ordnance ammunition companies "need 
approximately 50 percent skill and in- 
telligence; 50 percent should be 'strong 
backed' labor." It was assumed that the 
Second Corps Area could provide the 
skill and intelligence needed by both 
types of units, while the Fourth Corps 
Area could provide the "strong backed" 
labor from men already misassigned to 
the 34th Coast Artillery Brigade. 27 



26 Memo, G-i for TAG, 30 Mar 41, AG 387.31 

(9-19-40) (1) sec. 13. 

37 Memo, G-i for TAG, 27 Mar 41, AG 327.31 

(9-19-40) (1) sec. 12. 



96 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Similar shifting of procurement quotas 
continued through the spring of 1941. 
New Fourth Corps Area allotments for 
the 99th and 100th Coast Artillery (AA) 
(SM) to be activated at Camp Davis, 
North Carolina, were canceled and re- 
allotments were made to include North- 
ern and Middle Western areas in order 
to give these regiments "required occu- 
pational skills and intelligence not 
available in colored selectees from the 
Fourth Corps Area." 28 

Shifts of personnel, though calcu- 
lated to relieve the maldistribution of 
skills and training in certain units, could 
also relieve the pressures created by 
large numbers of passed-over Negro 
selectees in politically sensitive areas. 
For one shift, G-i noted that "postpon- 
ing induction of 1608 colored selectees 
from June to July in the Fourth Corps 
Area will have no repercussions in that 
corps area," while for another shift it 
was explained that passed-over Negro 
selectees in Illinois could be taken care 
of by a reallotment of corps area 
quotas. 29 

Actually, the shifts for purposes of im- 
proving the distribution of skills had lit- 
tle good effect. Despite the fact that 
Northern corps areas had a greater per- 
centage of skilled Negroes than South- 
ern, the availability of the desired types 
of men at a given time in a given recep- 
tion center was limited. So long as assign- 
ment by numerical availability and not 
by careful classification methods was 
employed, Negro units in which the 



28 Memo, G-i for TAG, 9 May 41, G-1/15640-85, 
AG 327.31 (9-19-40) (1) sec. 12. 

M Memo, G-i for TAG and attached Memo for 
Record, 27 Mar 41; Memo, G-i for TAG and 
Memo for Record, 6 Jun 41. Both in AG 327.31 
(9-19-40) (1) sec. 12. 



shifts occurred were not much better off 
after the shifts than before. Many other 
units in which maldistribution resulting 
from numerical block assignment oc- 
curred had no opportunity to benefit 
from subsequent transfers of men. 

Other annoyances arose out of the 
necessity of balancing white and Negro 
manpower by units. Occasionally a 
unit appearing as Negro in the War De- 
partment mobilization plan or, later, in 
the troop unit basis was carried as 
white by the corps area or command to 
which it was allotted. Radiograms direct- 
ing reallotments of whites and Negroes 
then bounced back and forth between 
the War Department and the corps area 
and camp commanders concerned. At 
times, such difficulties were corrected 
before shipment was made. 30 In a few 
instances Negro troops appeared when 
whites were expected and sometimes 
the reverse occurred. 

The situation arose, in part, from the 
decision to remove the term "colored" 
as an inseparable part of a unit's desig- 
nation. Older Negro units had carried 
the identification as a part of the unit 
name, for example, 47th Quartermaster 
Truck Regiment (Cld) . In 1940, as 
a result of protests over the similar des- 
ignation of certain National Guard units 
and as part of the decision that all Army 
units were to be trained, equipped, and 
employed alike, regardless of race, the 
identifying term was dropped. 31 Des- 



30 Memo, G-i for TAG, 28 Apr 41, AG 387.3» 
(9-19-40) (1) sec. 12. 

31 Tel, NAACP to SW, 13 Jun 40, Ltr, NAACP 
to the President, 13 Jun 40, and Inds, TAG and 
CofNGB, 17-18 Jun 40, all in AG 080 (NAACP) 
(6-13-40) (1); Ltr, TAG to Chiefs, CG's, CO's 
Exempted Stations, 18 Jul 40, AG 320.2 (6-15-40); 
AR 220-5, par. 7, 18 Sep 42; WD Cir 351, 21 Oct 
42. 



EXPANDING NEGRO STRENGTH 



97 



ignations such as "this is a colored unit" 
or "a colored unit" were permitted, if 
needed. Obviously, such designations 
were cumbersome and might easily 
be overlooked. To avoid repeating 
these awkward phrases, the custom of 
using an asterisk and an accompanying 
footnote indicating race soon came to 
be the accepted means of identifying 
Negro units in station lists, orders, or 
in any list of units. 32 Since asterisks 
could easily be transposed to the wrong 
unit or omitted entirely, station and 
troop lists became notoriously unreli- 
able in this respect. To prevent such 
errors, agencies shipping men were 
ultimately required to notify the receiv- 
ing agency that the shipment contained 
Negroes. If the men were accompanied 
by officers, their race was to be indicated 
as well. The receiving agency was, by 
this means, enabled to prepare billets 
and other facilities on a separate basis 
in advance of the arrival of troops, thus 
avoiding all-around "embarrassment." 33 
Troop lists, despite all precautions, re- 
mained unreliable in their identification 
of Negro units. Occasional mix-ups oc- 
curred throughout the war. 

Housing 

The amount of construction needed 
to house the new Army was tremendous. 
Vast acreages had to be purchased or 
leased, and graded and laid out, before 
construction could begin. Contracts 
had to be let, construction gangs had to 
be recruited, transported, and housed, 

32 The footnote asterisk became official with the 
publication of AR 220-5, 18 September 1942. 

83 Memo, AGF DCofS for AGF Opns Div, 2 Jun 
42, and M/S, AGF Opns Div to AGF DCofS, 4 
Jun 42, both in AGF 322.999/70 (Cld Trps) ; Ltr, 
TAG to CG's, 7 Jul 42, AG 291.21 (7-24-42). 



and emergency changes in construction 
plans had to be made. Priorities for 
projects had to be established. 34 De- 
spite initial allotments of a portion of 
the new construction to Negroes, the pro- 
vision of housing for Negro troops was 
relatively slow and uncertain. 

In the spring of 1941, G-4 conducted 
a survey of all camps and exempted sta- 
tions to determine where housing, with- 
out additional construction, was already 
available. Most exempted stations re- 
plied that they had no housing available 
for Negro troops, and, in some cases, that 
they had no housing available at all. 35 
Corps areas reported few camps with 
facilities for more than a small number 
of additional Negroes: 50 at Fort Eustis, 
343 at Fort Bel voir, 5 at Fort Myer, 132 
at Fort Knox, 640 at Fort Riley, 40 at 
Jefferson Barracks, 92 at Fort Ord, 202 
at Camp Luis Obispo, and 32 at Camp 
Edwards were typical of the reports. 
The entire Fourth Corps Area had facil- 
ities, without additional construction, 
for only 4,851 more Negroes, 2,646 of 
whom could be placed in station com- 
plements at fourteen posts. 36 

Much of the difficulty arose from the 
physical layouts of posts and from the 
varying definitions of what constituted 
available housing for Negroes. Not every 
area of currently unused housing was 
available for Negro troops. An area con- 
structed to house divisional troops 



34 Leonore Fine and Jesse A. Remington, Con- 
struction in the United .States, MS in preparation 
for a volume in UNITED STATES ARMY IN 
WORLD WAR II, ch. VI. 

35 Exempted stations included depots, arsenals, 
and similar installations, many of which had no 
troops authorized and therefore had no housing. 
Other exempted stations, such as ports, were still 
in the planning and construction stage. 

^Ltrs and Msgs in AG 600.12 (5-24-4.1) (1). 



98 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



would normally be held for divisional 
use. A division required a continuous 
block of housing and the attendant mo- 
tor parks, shops, and recreational and 
mess facilities which were necessary to 
its efficient training as a unit. Because 
the maximum size of a Negro unit in the 
first years of expansion was set at the 
brigade level, divisional areas were not 
available for Negro troops at all. Negro 
units had to be put in the barracks and 
tent areas that remained after divisions 
and their attached units had been 
housed. 

Theoretically, new housing was allo- 
cated to Negro units on a proportionate 
basis, but many posts had not expected 
to receive a proportionate number of 
Negroes. Moreover, the number of 
Negroes on a given post was expected to 
be small enough to allay the fears 
of surrounding communities— small 
enough, that is, to be certain that the 
white troops present could control any 
racial disorders that might arise. This 
meant that not too many Negroes— 
though the numbers often exceeded 10 
percent— could be assigned to a given 
post. 

Again, housing for Negroes had to be 
located so as to carry out the principle 
of segregation by units. This required 
an extension of segregation into the al- 
lotment of housing. The main portion 
of a camp, often constructed in a huge 
arc with parade grounds and headquar- 
ters near the center and hospital wards 
and warehouses at either end, was al- 
lotted to divisional and attached units 
or to other large units assigned to the 
camp. Off at a tangent from the main 
sweep of camp buildings, a regimental 
or smaller area was constructed for Ne- 
gro troops. All Negro units assigned to 



the post had to be fitted into this or 
similar blocks of housing. Initially 
these areas, as at Fort Dix, New Jersey, 
and Fort Devens, Massachusetts, were at 
a considerable distance from the main 
camp area. Later construction filled in 
the intervening spaces, usually with 
warehouses, stockades, and motor parks 
rather than with barracks. Usually the 
Negro areas remained distinct and sepa- 
rate, though in some of the newer camps, 
such as Camp Breckinridge, Kentucky, 
and Camp Ellis, Illinois, they were mere- 
ly separated from identical white quar- 
ters by a parade ground or a fire break. 
The Negro area came to be known as 
such; often it was so shown on camp 
layouts. It was, essentially, a separate 
camp adjoining the major portion of 
the post. It was usually provided with 
its own branch exchange, its own recrea- 
tion hall, and, later, its own motion pic- 
ture house, its own chapel, and, if the 
area were large enough, its own service 
club and guest house. 37 

In most cases, the result was that 
available housing for Negroes was not 
measured by available vacancies but by 
vacancies in the Negro area. Con- 
versely, available housing for whites was 
limited to housing outside the Negro 
area, unless all Negroes could be re- 
moved from the section of the post 
involved. An objection from Fort 
Leonard Wood explained a type of 
housing-strength problem arising from 
this procedure: 

The schedule attached to the basic letter 
includes 1,760 white trainees for the week 
of December 7-13, which number is 
apparently based on the assumption that 
one battalion of white trainees could be 

" The provision o£ recreational facilities is 
treated in Chapter XI, below. 



EXPANDING NEGRO STRENGTH 



99 



substituted for one of colored trainees in 
order to fill this center to its limit of 
capacity, inasmuch as the schedule provides 
for a total of 8 battalions of white trainees 
and two of colored trainees. Such a 
substitution is not practicable. There are 
barracks at this station for 7 battalions of 
white trainees in one area, and for 3 
battalions (one battalion less one com- 
pany) of colored trainees in another area 
well separated from the area for white 
trainees. Further, the enlisted cadres of 3 
battalions (one battalion less one com- 
pany) are colored troops. 38 

Housing by race meant that if Negro 
increments did not arrive in training 
centers according to schedule the whole 
training process for Negro troops was 
delayed. Delays in filling a training 
unit meant delays not only for that unit 
but for the next unit to follow. The in- 
flux of Negro trainees into the Camp 
Wheeler (Georgia) Infantry Replace- 
ment Training Center was so slow in the 
summer of 1941 that the 16th Training 
Battalion, consisting of Negro trainees, 
was not able to start training three of 
its five rifle companies until September, 
though all companies had been sched- 
uled to start training in August. Hous- 
ing for the October load therefore was 
not available until November when the 
delayed companies had completed their 
training. Eight hundred and eighty 
trainees had to be deferred until hous- 
ing became available for them. 39 Simi- 
larly, at the Fort Bragg (North Carolina) 
Field Artillery Replacement Training 
Center, the arrival of Negroes in small 
groups produced an excess of trainees 
over housing capacity. Small groups for 
specialist training had to wait until their 

38 1st Ind, Hq ERTC Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., 
to TAG, 8 Sep 41, AG 327.71 (7-3-41) . 

"Ltr, CG Cp Wheeler, Ga., to TAG, 4 Sep 41, 
AG 334.71 (9-4-41)- 



numbers were built up to a point where 
classes were of sufficient size to make 
training feasible. The waiting men took 
up space which grew cumulatively more 
valuable as successive increments ar- 
rived. "The shipment of colored 
trainees in small groups results in un- 
satisfactory specialist training," the 
center reported. 40 

The housing shortage slowed up or 
postponed the training of many of the 
new Negro units. The 41st Engineer 
General Service Regiment, activated in 
August 1940, could not expect housing 
accommodations for its full complement 
of 1,176 men until 15 January 1941. In 
October 1940 the unit requested 800 
additional men as soon as possible since 
by 15 February 1941 it was scheduled 
to furnish cadres totaling 562 men. 
The unit was told that housing diffi- 
culties precluded expansion beyond a 
total of 835 men and that space had been 
allotted for only 140 new men. Aban- 
donment of unit training to the extent 
necessary to provide for cadre training 
was authorized. By December the unit 
had 697 men, with 425 new selectees 
due from the Fourth Corps Area in Jan- 
uary. When the unit asked for permis- 
sion to enlist locally a maximum of 375 
men to make up its deficiency, the re- 
quest was denied since the Third Corps 
Area (Pennsylvania, Maryland, District 
of Columbia, and Virginia) had 375 
passed-over selectees whom it could and 
would send to the unit as soon as hous- 
ing was available. 41 The 54th Coast 

40 1st lnd to Ltr, TAG to CG FARTC, Ft. Bragg, 
N.C., 10 Sep 41, AG 324.71 C (9-31-41) . 

^Ltrs, AG 221 (10-19-40), AG 221 (10-31-40); 
Memo, G— 1 for TAG, 13 Nov 40, G-1/15640-52; 
Rad, CG Fourth Corps Area to TAG, ig Dec 40, 
and Memo, G-i for TAG, 21 Dec 40, both in AG 
341 (7-10-39) sec. 2A, pt. 3. 



100 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Artillery, originally scheduled for acti- 
vation at Barrancas, Florida, was moved 
from that station at the request of the 
Navy Department. Its activation was 
subsequently delayed by slow construc- 
tion of Camp Wallace, Texas, its new 
station. The arrival of both the regi- 
ment's cadre and its selectees was held 
up until construction could be com- 
pleted. Lack of housing was also the 
bottleneck holding up The Surgeon 
General's entire program for the use 
of Negroes, for Negro Medical Depart- 
ment personnel could not begin training 
until separate shelter and housekeeping 
facilities were constructed. 42 

A minor byproduct of the housing 
shortage in 1941 was the effect upon 
training and discipline in units already 
activated. Often, Negro units awaiting 
fillers, who were, in turn, awaiting space 
in replacement training centers and re- 
ception centers, shared vacant housing 
with other units. Later, the fact that 
the sharing unit failed to receive ade- 
quate space of its own left the host unit 
with crowded quarters. The 41st Engi- 
neer General Service Regiment com- 
plained that "on a basis of neighborly 
obligation" it had shared its infirmary 
and officers' quarters with the 96th Engi- 
neers. This arrangement created fric- 
tion through division of responsibility, 
intermingling of soldiers, and crowding 
of quarters. The 41st requested quar- 
ters for "our sister organization" so that 
each unit could control all activities in 
its own area. The 758th Tank Bat- 
talion and the 371st Infantry made simi- 
lar requests for housing for units which 



42 Memo, SGO, Maj Arthur B. Welsh, to Gen 
Love, 27 Dec 40, SGO 291,81-1940. 



had to share their areas' supply, mess, 
and infirmary facilities. 43 

Camp Locations 

In addition to the availability of 
housing at stations designated for the 
receipt of Negro troops, the physical loca- 
tion of camps to which Negroes were to 
be sent was itself a determining factor 
in procurement and assignment. Find- 
ing suitable camps for training Negro 
troops was to vex the War Department— 
and Negro soldiers— throughout the war. 
The answer was not simply one of locat- 
ing suitable barracks space and training 
facilities within areas under Army juris- 
diction. Purely military considerations 
played but a small part in determining 
the location of Negro troops in the early 
period of mobilization. The main con- 
siderations were: availability of housing 
and facilities on the post concerned; 
proportions of white and Negro troops 
at the post; proximity to civilian centers 
of Negro population with good recrea- 
tional facilities that could absorb siz- 
able numbers of Negroes on pass; and 
the attitude of the nearby civilian com- 
munity to the presence of Negro troops. 

Many communities objected to the 
presence of any Negro troops at all. 
Others objected to the presence of cer- 
tain categories: military policemen, 
combat troops, officers, Northern troops. 
Community attitudes also fluctuated 
from time to time. It had long been 
one of the canons of War Department 

43 Ltr, Hq 41st Engr Gen Sv Regt, Ft. Bragg, 
N.C., to CG Ft. Bragg, 23 Dec 41, approved, gth 
Ind, AGF to CofE, 18 Apr 42, AG 600.13/476; Ltr, 
Hq 758th Tk Bn (L) GHQ Reserve, to CO Cp 
Claiborne, La., 5 Mar 4a, AGF 600.12/539; Ltr, 
Hq CT 371, Cp Robinson, Ark., to CG Cp Robin- 
son, 10 Nov 42, and 7 Inds, AGF 620/234. 



EXPANDING NEGRO STRENGTH 



101 



policy, based on a past history of riots 
and disturbances there, that no Negro 
units should be mobilized in Texas. 44 
Although the order on which this policy 
was based was rescinded in 1937, 45 the 
prohibition still operated in fact. The 
policy did not prevent citizens of less 
prosperous areas in Texas from re- 
questing camps near their towns. The 
postmaster of Calvert, Texas, pointed 
out that there was a large Negro popu- 
lation in his town, that the two races 
got along well together, and that plenty 
of wood, good soil, and natural gas 
were available. "Our cotton crop on 
our upland East of Calvert was a failure, 
we haven't had a C. C. Camp in our 
county, our town, also our county popu- 
lation certainly needs something to stim- 
ulate business and employment," he 
added. 46 On the other hand Arizona 
citizens, who had requested Negro troops 
in 1940, were ready by 1943 to petition 
that Negro troops be withdrawn and that 
no more be sent to the state. 47 

A great many communities could not 
be convinced that the exigencies of the 
situation demanded the stationing of 
Negro troops in their vicinities. They 
often made their views known through 
their congressmen. An early and typi- 

44 Memo, OCS for G-3, 17 Jun 29, OCS 13984- 
127; Memo, G-3 for CofS, 22 Jun 29, G-3/6541- 
Gen-272; Ltr, TAG to CG Eighth Corps Area, 25 
Jun 29, AG 381 (fi-17-29) (1) . 

Ltr, TAG to CG Eighth Corps Area, 3 Dec 37, 
AG 391 (11-24-37) ( Misc ) A - 

10 Ltr, A. K. Tyson to Representative Luther A. 
Johnson, 28 Oct 40, and Ltr, Representative John- 
son to SW, 4 Nov 40, both in AG 680.1 (11-4-40) 
(7)- 

" Ltr, Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce, 
Nogales, to NAACP, 24 Oct 40, AG 291.21 (10- 
28-40) (1); AGF DF, 22 Jul 42, AGF 291.2 (7- 
17-42); Memo, TIG for DCofS, 2 Mar 43, 1G 
333/ '-93d lnf Div (Sp) ; Memo, G-3 for CG's, 
1 May 43, AGF 322.999/7 (Cld Trps) . 



cal protest came from Representative 
Patrick H. Drewry of Virginia on behalf 
of the citizens of Petersburg. In Sep- 
tember 1940, before the opening of 
Camp Lee and before the large expan- 
sion of Negro manpower, Represent- 
ative Drewry visited General Marshall 
and the chief of the War Plans Division 
to ask that, in view of racial difficulties 
in Petersburg during World War I, no 
Negro troops other than a small number 
of labor troops be stationed at Camp 
Lee. 48 One of the first "correctives" to 
the fear of potential race riots was 
formulated in connection with this re- 
quest. As a supplement to plans al- 
ready made to establish quartermaster 
and medical replacement centers at Lee 
with a peak load of 19,000 trainees, 
3,500 of whom would be Negroes, G— 3 
proposed that a rifle company of the 12 th 
Infantry be made available if necessary 
to help prevent race riots. The Chief 
of Staff approved the G-3 proposal and 
Negro troops were assigned to Camp 
Lee. 49 The 12th Infantry's rifle com- 
pany was never needed. 

Another type of protest, based on the 
inability of a camp town to provide 
recreational facilities for Negroes on 
pass, came from Wyoming. Early in 
1941, Senator Schwartz asked that the 
number of Negroes stationed at Fort 
Warren be reduced because of the small 
Negro population in Cheyenne. In 
April 1941, the June quota of 500 Ne- 
groes for Fort Warren was accordingly 
changed to 500 for Camp Lee. 50 This 

18 Memos, WPD for CofS, 26 Sep 40 and 10 Oct 
40, AG 324.71 (9-26-40) (1). 

10 Memo, G-3 for WPD, 5 Oct 40, and D/S, 
OCofS to G-3 and WPD, 16 Oct 40, AG 324.71 
(9-26-40) (1). 

50 Memo, G-3 for TAG, 21 Apr 41, AG 324.71 
(4-21-41) ■ 



102 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



reduction produced a local housing snag 
at Fort Warren. The Seventh Corps 
Area declared that the reduction of Ne- 
groes and the substitution of white men 
could not be accomplished if strict seg- 
regation was to be held to: 

Substitution can be made but segregation 
can not repeat can not be accomplished 
stop no housing available for any increased 
quota of white selectees except in barracks 
adjacent to colored selectees stop strongly 
recommend that white and colored select- 
ees be segregated stop consider vacant space 
in area for colored troops Ft Warren 
replacement center advisable rather than 
quartering white and colored together re- 
peat strongly recommend no substitution 
. . . of white for colored selectees be made 
at QMRC end. 51 

In the meantime the city provided local 
recreational facilities for Negroes and 
Cheyenne protests were modified. 52 

In 1942, protests about the location 
of Negro troops continued to pour into 
the War Department from all over the 
country. The state of Mississippi and 
Camp Wheeler, Georgia, wanted no 
Negro officers. 53 The citizens of Rapid 
City, South Dakota, were afraid that 
their town could not offer the proper 
entertainment facilities for Negro troops. 
A "thunder of complaints" went up 
from all over the state when a Negro cav- 
alry regiment was ordered to Fort Clark, 
Texas. 54 Albuquerque, New Mexico, 
and Spokane, Washington, citizens ob- 

01 Rad, Seventh Corps Area to TAG, 26 Apr 41, 
AG 324.71 (4-25-4*) • See also Ltr, CG Ft. Warren 
QMRC to CG Seventh Corps Area, 18 Jun 41, AG 
324.71 (6-18-41). 

52 Ltr, Senator Schwartz to Gen Marshall, 29 Apr 
41, AG 324.71 (3-22-41) (1). 

69 Memo, AGF G-i for G-3, 5 May 42, AGF 
210.31/102. 

54 Ltr, CG AGF to Representative Charles L. 
South, 24 Jun 42, AG 322.17/1 (9th Cav) ; Min 
Gen Council, 30 Jun 42. 



jected to stationing Negro Air Forces 
units at nearby fields, for they felt that 
their own Negro populations were too 
small to provide social contacts for Negro 
men. Las Vegas, Nevada, and Battle 
Creek, Michigan, objected to military 
police and field artillery units respec- 
tively. When the citizens of Morehead 
City, North Carolina, heard that a white 
coast artillery station at nearby Fort 
Mason was going overseas and would be 
replaced by a Negro unit, they asked 
their senators and congressmen to inter- 
vene. 55 

In November 1941 General Marshall 
directed his staff to resurvey the alloca- 
tion of Negro units, "with the idea of 
planning a proper proportion of Negro 
personnel at locations adjacent to com- 
munities with a large colored popula- 
tion." 56 The staff consulted army and 
corps area commanders, and post, camp, 
and station commanders reported their 
observations and recommendations 
through the corps area commanders. 
These reports indicated that, aside from 
small station complement detachments 
of service troops, few post or higher com- 
manders felt that additional Negro 
troops could be accommodated without 
causing protests or resentment from near- 
by civilian communities. Negro troops, 
according to the post commanders, would 
be resented at five out of six Northern 
posts, over half of the Southern posts, 



B Mcmo, AG for TAG, 13 Mar 42, AGF 322.999/8 
(Cld Trps) ; Ltr, Spokane Chamber of Commerce 
to S\V, 17 Dec 42, AG 291.21 (12-4-42) (8) ; Ltr, 
Senator Mon C. Wallgren to SW, 10 Dec 42, AG 
291.21 (12-10-42) (12-4-42) (2); Ltrs, AG 333.9 
(10-12-42) (1); Memo, OUSW for CofS AGF, 6 
Aug 42, and CofS AGF to Special Asst USW, 6 
Aug 42, AGF 322.999/132. 

M Memo, SGS for G-i, G-3, and CofAS, 25 Nov 
41, AG 322.97 (11-25-41) (1) . 



EXPANDING NEGRO STRENGTH 



103 



and practically all of the southwestern 
and western posts. Nearly all command- 
ers of Southern posts indicated that 
Northern Negro troops would produce 
greater resentment than Southern Negro 
troops. Post commanders felt that large 
numbers of Negroes should not be sta- 
tioned at any one post and that in no 
case should more Negro than white 
troops be placed on a given post, except 
that the commanding general of the 
Eighth Corps Area recommended that an 
all-Negro post of 20,000 capacity be lo- 
cated in eastern Texas near Italy, a town 
which was reasonably close to several 
centers of Negro population. Some 
commanders felt that the attempt to 
place Negroes near large centers of Ne- 
gro population could produce new prob- 
lems. The commanding general of the 
Second Army felt that large towns 
should be avoided because of the pos- 
sible interaction of the presence of Negro 
troops and large groups of Negro ci- 
vilians. The commanding general of 
the Second Corps Area felt that Negroes 
should not be placed near big cities such 
as New York and Philadelphia. 57 

In January 1942 G-3, indicating that 
no military purpose would be served by 
further shifts of Negro troops and that 
most permanent stations were "as suit- 
able as is practicable at this time,'' spe- 
cifically recommended that: 

1. No changes be made in the permanent 
stations of Negro troops, except for military 
reasons. 

2. The size of nearby Negro civilian 
communities be a determining factor in 
selecting stations of newly activated or 
transferred units. 

3. Insofar as practicable, Negroes in- 

07 Memo, G-3 for CofS, 18 Jan 42, AG 322.97 
(11-25-41) (1-18-42). 



ducted in the North be stationed in the 
North. 

4. No Negro unit larger than a brigade 
be stationed at any post within the 
continental limits of the United States, 
except that one infantry division may be 
stationed at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. 58 

While these proposals were not reme- 
dies for the conditions which made find- 
ing acceptable locations for Negro troops 
so difficult, the first provision strength- 
ened the position of assigning agencies in 
their insistence that military needs take 
precedence over local attitudes, the 
second would be likely to reduce the 
strain on local community attitudes in 
areas where large numbers of Negroes, 
in or out of uniform, were an unfamiliar 
sight, and the fourth lessened the pos- 
sibility of the establishment of a group 
of all-Negro posts, isolated from the rest 
of the Army if not from civilians. 

Only the third provision was com- 
pletely ineffective and unworkable. 
Yet this proposal, that Northern Negro 
troops be kept in the North, was made 
frequently in recommendations to the 
War Department, and was echoed in the 
Southern press. The Dallas Morning 
News, for example, editorialized: 

The federal government apparently has 
never learned that it cannot without 
unfortunate consequences billet northern- 
trained Negro troops in the south. Until it 
does learn that axiomatic fact, there will 
continue to be trouble. 59 

Mobilization Regulations had pro- 
vided that Negroes in the zone of the 
interior should be assigned to stations in 
the general areas where they were pro- 

68 Memo, G-3 for CofS, 18 Jan 4a, AG 322.97 
(11-25-41) (1-18-42). 
" Dallas Morning News, November 4, 1941. 



104 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



cured. 60 Within the War Department, 
the Morale Branch agreed that Northern 
Negroes should not be sent to Southern 
camps. 91 A meeting of Southern gov- 
ernors assembled at Hot Springs, Arkan- 
sas, in the spring of 1942 made two 
requests: that no Negro military police 
be used around Southern airports or any- 
where else that might make it necessary 
for them to direct or control white sol- 
diers and civilians and that Southern 
Negroes be kept South and Northern 
Negroes, North. This last request, al- 
though communicated to the Army in 
May 1942, was not practical. 62 All 
major replacement training centers and 
many camps were in the South. Fur- 
ther, since Negro skills and educational 
qualifications were not evenly distrib- 
uted geographically, it would add to the 
difficulties of building potentially useful 
Negro units. It would complicate the 
problem of locating Negro units at posts 
that were suitable both from the training 
and the social point of view. It would 
mean Northern duplication of such fa- 
cilities as the Army Flying School at 
Tuskegee, Alabama, and it would in- 
terfere with maneuvers, for maneuver 
areas were primarily in the South. 63 

Once the War Department deter- 
mined that military needs must take 
precedence over local attitudes, it bil- 



60 MR 1-1, Personnel, par. 17c! (3). 

01 Memo, OCofMB for G-3, 2 Dec 41, AG 322.97 
(11-25-41) (1). 

08 Ltr, AGF to G-3, 24 Apr 42, AGF 291.2/17 
and reply, G-3 to AGF, WDGCT 291.81 (4-24-42) . 

83 When he was informed that Lt. Gen. Ben Lear, 
after his experiences with racial friction in the 
Arkansas maneuvers of 1941, had recommended 
that no Negro troops be sent South for maneuvers 
in the future, Secretary Stimson noted marginally 
on the recommendation: "No. Get the Southerners 
used to them!" Memo, WPD for CoES, 25 Mar 42, 
AGF 322.999/2. 



leted Negro troops at most camps, sta- 
tions, and airfields in the United States. 
After the reorganization of the Army in 
March 1942 each major command con- 
trolled the location of troops under its 
jurisdiction. The commands soon de- 
termined that shifting troops not only 
interfered with the continuity of training 
but that it did little more than transfer 
objections from one community to an- 
other. For example, Army Ground 
Forces pointed out that Little Rock had 
a sizable Negro population and that the 
choice of Camp Robinson was therefore 
logical, and emphasized that if Negroes 
were not stationed at Robinson they 
would have to go elsewhere "where they 
will be resented as much, if not more, 
than in Arkansas." Continuing, the 
Ground Forces stated: "We have 3,000 
set up for Camp Swift, Texas, where the 
Mayor asked his Congressman to inform 
the President that he would personally 
shoot the first one who came into 
town." 64 

The headquarters of the major com- 
mands became convinced that the prob- 
lem of locations was one which could be 
settled best by strong and wise local 
commanders whose knowledge of their 
troops and of the nearby communities 
must be relied upon to reduce areas of 
tension between white and Negro troops 
on posts and between troops and civil- 
ians in nearby towns. Lt. Gen. Lesley 
J. McNair, the commander of Army 
Ground Forces, summed up what came 
to be a general War Department atti- 
tude when he held that the only solution 
to the problem of locations for Negro 

61 Memo, TIG for DCofS, 2 May 42, AGF 333.1/ 
18; Ltr, TAG to CG AGF, 22 May 42, AG 291.21 
(5-8-42); M/S, AGF Opns Div to CofS AGF, 9 
Apr 42, AGF 322.999/3. 



EXPANDING NEGRO STRENGTH 



105 



troops lay in competent commanders 
"who can forestall racial difficulties by 
firm discipline, just treatment, strenu- 
ous training, and wholesome recrea- 
tion." 65 He later expanded this to in- 
clude advice against shifting Negro 
troops as a result of community pres- 
sures: 

It is inadvisable to yield to pressure to 
move colored troops elsewhere, since such 
action shows weakness of command and 
fosters complaints from the civil popula- 
tion. Colored troops are unavoidable under 
the law, their assignment to station is made 
after careful consideration of the many 
factors involved, and a community receiv- 
ing such troops must accept the situation 
created and handle it as they handle other 
social problems. On the other hand, a civil 
community has every right to expect 
colored units to be commanded effectively, 
and prevented from committing outrages 
such as occur all too frequently. 66 

To lessen the chance of racial difficul- 
ties, the War Department recommended 
that an advance check be made by the 
assigning agency to determine the ade- 
quacy of recreational facilities at both 
the station and in nearby communities, 
for "proper recreational facilities and 
opportunities for association in nearby 
communities will assist to a great extent 
in lessening the possibility of racial 
difficulties." Sufficient notice of the 
arrival of Negroes was to be given com- 
manders of the new station so that ade- 
quate preparations for their reception 
and accommodation might be made. 67 



68 Memo, AGF for TAG, 14 Jun 42, AGF 322.999/ 
7 8. 

M Memo, Gen McNair for CG Second Army, 1 
Sep 42, AGF 319.1/112 (8-24-42). 

"Ltr, TAG to CG's, 7 Jul 42, AG 291.21 (7- 
24-42) ; Ltr, Hq AGF to CG's Armies, VI, VII, IX 
Corps, 12 Jul 42, AGF 370.5/410 (7-7-42) , in AGF 
291.2/5. 



Though the principle that pressure to 
move Negro troops would be resisted 
and that Negro troops could be distrib- 
uted generally throughout the Army's 
posts where similar types of units were 
trained was held to, no definite direc- 
tives on the question of retaining Negro 
troops at posts in the face of public oppo- 
sition were issued. Cases were dealt 
with as they arose. In most cases, the 
Army urged protesting communities to 
consider the necessity of training Negro 
troops where facilities existed, that is, in 
nearly every camp in the country. Ap- 
peals were made to high community 
patriotism and to community leaders of 
both races. After communities under- 
stood that they were sharing the distri- 
bution of Negro troops with other areas 
all over the country, most protests were 
withdrawn. Uncertainty, fear, and 
sometimes open animosity reflected in 
troop-town relations continued to exist 
in some towns. In others, local church, 
school, welfare, and recreation groups, 
with the help of national bodies, espe- 
cially the United Service Organizations 
(USO) and the American Red Cross, 
combined to provide troops with com- 
munity services that reduced and re- 
lieved tensions which could otherwise 
have been counted upon to produce fric- 
tion and open disturbances of one sort 
or another if allowed to continue un- 
checked. Nevertheless, a few cases of 
shifting units for other than military 
reasons occurred throughout the war. 
While particular units were thus shifted, 
clearing a camp of all Negro units for 
other than military reasons became a 
rarity. Sometimes these shifts were to 
the advantage of the units themselves 
when they involved movement from an 
area relatively unprepared for their pres- 



106 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



ence to one which could provide better 
facilities. 

No particular advantage, other than 
a clearing of the administrative air, was 
gained by the decision itself, for by the 
time it was decided that the location of 
Negro troops was primarily a matter of 
military necessity that could be justified 
as such, the possibility of further major 
shifts of Negro troops was definitely lim- 
ited by the available space. By 1942, 
most camps which were to house Negro 
troops in sizable numbers throughout 
the war were already doing so. 68 Most 
ports of embarkation and their subsidi- 
ary posts housed Negro troops. To il- 
lustrate further the geographical range 
of camps with permanent concentrations 
of Negro troops, once the Air Forces 
began to employ large numbers of Ne- 
gro units virtually every air station had 
at least one aviation squadron and at 
least one quartermaster platoon (avia- 
tion) composed of Negro troops. 

The larger the unit, the more difficult 
was the choice of a location. This situ- 
ation lasted throughout the war. It en- 
couraged the organization of small Ne- 



68 These installations included: Camps Stewart 
and Gordon and Fort Benning, Georgia; Camps 
Livingston, Polk, Beauregard, and Claiborne, Lou- 
isiana; Fort Riley, Kansas; Camps Haan, Cooke, 
and Stoneman and Fort Ord, California; Fort Dix 
and Raritan Arsenal, New Jersey; Fort Custer, 
Michigan; Fort Lewis and Vancouver Barracks, 
Washington; Fort Leonard Wood and Camp 
Crowder, Missouri; Forts Sam Houston and Bliss 
and Camps Hulen, Wolters, Bowie, and Swift, 
Texas; Fort Knox, Kentucky; Camp Forrest, Ten- 
nessee; Edgewood Arsenal, Aberdeen Proving 
Ground, and Fort Meade, Maryland; Fort Jackson 
and Camp Croft, South Carolina; Fort Bragg and 
Camp Davis, North Carolina; Camps Van Dorn, 
Shelby, and McCain, Mississippi; Forts Eustis and 
Belvoir and Camp Lee, Virginia; Fort Devens and 
Camp Edwards, Massachusetts; Fort Huachuca, 
Arizona; and Fort Sill, Oklahoma. 



gro units and discouraged the activation 
of large units. The first of the all-Ne- 
gro divisions, the 93d Division, was lo- 
cated in the spring of 1942 at Fort 
Huachuca, Arizona, a post which had 
housed Negro troops traditionally and 
which was far enough away from civilian 
communities to minimize local protests 
over sending so large a unit there. Even 
so, the commanding general of the post's 
service command had not recommended 
it as a division camp for Negro troops. 68 
When the second Negro infantry divi- 
sion, the g2d, was to be activated in the 
fall of 194?, no single post could be 
found for it. The division was therefore 
activated at four widely separated posts 
in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, and 
Indiana. This division could not be 
assembled until the 93d left Fort Hua- 
chuca. Several attempts were made to 
find other divisional camps for Negroes, 
with Fort Meade, Maryland, Fort Dix, 
New Jersey, and Camp Burner, North 
Carolina, favorably mentioned because 
of their location near Negro centers of 
population. 70 When the 2d Cavalry 
Division was about to become all Negro, 
no single camp was available, though 
Fort Clark, Texas, could have been 
adapted to the whole division if it had 
not been Negro. The division was 
therefore divided between Fort Clark 
and Camp Lockett, California, both of 
which had then to be expanded with 



" M/S, AGF Opns Div to Constr Div, 2 Apr 4s, 
AGF 320.2 (3-8-42) Opn/00910. 

70 Fort Meade became an AGF depot. The Fourth 
Corps Area questioned the wisdom of adding a 
division to its Negro strength, though it suggested 
Grenada, Rucker, Sutton. Gordon, and five others 
in addition to Camp Butner. 1st Ind, Fourth Corps 
Area to Ltr, TAG to CG Fourth Corps ATea, 8 
Mar 42, AG 3S0.2 (3-8-48) MJC-C. 



EXPANDING NEGRO STRENGTH 



107 



housing and stables to take care of this 
last of the horse cavalry divisions. 71 

Cadres for Units 

The vast and rapid increase in the 
strength of the Army posed another 
problem that was much more serious 
for new Negro units than for correspond- 
ing white units. New units are built 
around cadres supplied by older "par- 
ent" units of the same or similar types. 
Cadres are supposed to be made up of 
experienced, trained men, properly bal- 
anced in numbers, skills, and leadership 
abilities according to the needs of the 
new unit being activated. New units 
then receive fillers from reception or 
replacement centers to bring themselves 
to full strength. Among Negro units 
there were neither enough older units 
nor enough units of similar types to 
supply the cadre needs of new units. 
Only the four Regular regiments and a 
few other detachments had existed long 
enough before mobilization to be trained 
at all. From the beginning, therefore, 
Negro units were hard put to furnish 
cadres in sufficient numbers and of suf- 
ficient quality to provide for the proper 
organization and training of new units 
of varying types in all arms and services. 
Many a unit complained bitterly that 
cadres for younger units were stripping 
it of all noncommissioned officer and 
specialist material before the unit itself 
had got its own training well under way. 
The new units, in turn, after receiving 
the best that the parent units had to 
offer, often complained that their cadres 
could not meet their needs. 



"Memo, Hq AGF for CG SOS, 22 Sep 42, and 
attached Memo £01 Record, AGF 20/3. 



The problem of cadres was one whose 
ultimate effect was far-reaching, for orig- 
inal units trained with less than ade- 
quate cadres produced in turn new 
cadres for younger units that were likely 
to be even more inadequate. The life- 
blood of cadres was well-trained, well- 
disciplined, well-informed personnel 
with high leadership abilities. As acti- 
vations of new units continued to in- 
crease, the quality of the cadres deterio- 
rated rapidly and the lifeblood sapped 
from the older units grew so thin that 
many of the newer units began their 
careers with cadres poor enough to con- 
stitute a handicap from which some of 
them never recovered. 

The older Negro units, composed pri- 
marily of career cavalrymen and infan- 
trymen, could not, all at once, provide 
the required cadres for new artillery, 
chemical warfare, and engineer units. 
But because there was no other source 
they had to provide cadres for most of 
the earlier units, with the result that 
they themselves were weakened. It is 
questionable whether the traditional 
Regular units were ever able to provide 
adequate cadres for new units of even 
their own arms. Despite their reputa- 
tion of containing large numbers of well- 
disciplined and responsible career sol- 
diers, the older units had long been in 
need of additional training and men. 
They were brought to full strength rel- 
atively slowly and their heavy losses 
through the production of cadres and 
through other necessary transfers kept 
them from acquiring the finished train- 
ing which they were too often assumed 
to have had. The regiments had been 
at reduced strength for several years be- 
fore the beginning of mobilization and, 
"although classed as combat regiments, 



108 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



[the cavalry regiments] actually were 
used as service troops at Forts Myer, 
Leavenworth and Riley and at the 
United States Military Academy." 72 In 
May 1941, Brig. Gen. Terry Allen ex- 
plained that the Negro regiments of the 
2d Cavalry Division were "several 
months behind the Third Cavalry Bri- 
gade, owing to delay in organization and 
because they had only a small nucleus of 
trained men to start with." 73 During 
the period 1940-42, nevertheless, these 
units and their infantry counterparts, 
which were no better prepared for their 
tasks, were continuously furnishing cad- 
res to new Negro units in all arms and 
services. 

Because of the lack of adequate Negro 
cadres, the early coast artillery regiments 
were activated with sufficient white non- 
commissioned officers assigned to assist 
in training these units to carry on "work 
connected with their specialities." The 
white NCO's remained assigned to these 
regiments until July 1941, when they 
were transferred to white units. They 
actually remained on detached service 
with the Negro regiments for some time 
thereafter, or until Negroes became 
available for promotion to the first three 
grades and until accommodations for 
Negro enlisted men were made available 
at the Coast Artillery School. 74 Negro 
coast and antiaircraft artillery regiments 
were unable to furnish all the cadres 

"Tab B, Cavalry Units in PMP, 1939, to Memo, 
G—3 for CofS, 5 Aug 40, AG 320.2 (8-5-40) (3) . 

™Ltr, Gen Allen, CG 2d Cav Div, to Gen Mar- 
shall, 13 May 41, AG 320.2 (5-13-41) (3) ■ 

"Memo, G-3 for TAG, 15 Nov 40, AG 320,3 
(11-15-40); Memo, OCofCA for TAG, 10 Jun 41, 
AG 320.2 (6-10-41) ; Ltr, TAG to CG First Army, 
16 Jun 41, AG 320.2 (6-10-41) EA. Regiments 
involved in this procedure included the 54th Coast 
Artillery and the 76th, 9,9th, and 100th Coast 
Artillery (AA) . 



needed for the Coast Artillery Replace- 
ment Training Center at Fort Eustis, 
Virginia, and, despite the objections of 
the center, white cadremen were used 
as instructors until Negroes could re- 
place them. 

As early as January 1941, The Quar- 
termaster General reported that all Ne- 
gro quartermaster units in all corps areas 
were depleted by cadre calls to such an 
extent that they could supply no further 
cadres to units. He suggested that com- 
manders requiring cadres for new Negro 
quartermaster detachments for station 
use should organize, supervise, and train 
their detachments with whatever person- 
nel was available. If none was avail- 
able, key personnel should be enlisted 
locally. 78 Fort Knox reported in De- 
cember 1940 that Company K, 48th 
Quartermaster Regiment, stationed 
there, had already trained two cadres 
and was to furnish another in January. 
It therefore could not take care of more 
selectees due to arrive at Knox in Janu- 
ary 1941. The post needed twenty-two 
enlisted men from another source at 
once to provide a cadre for the new 
quartermaster service company into 
which the January selectees were to be 
put. Fort Knox was informed that, if 
necessary, white personnel might be uti- 
lized temporarily to organize the Negro 
company. 76 

Medical units faced similar difficulties 
in attempting to provide cadres from an 
insufficiency of properly trained men. 



* Memo, OQMG for G-i, 10 Jan 41, AG 220.31 
(5-22-40) (1) sec. 6. 

76 Ltr, Hq Ft. Knox, Ky., to CG Fifth Corps 
Area, 21 Dec 40; Ltr, TAG to CG Ft. Knox, 18 
Dec 40, both in AG 220.31 (5-22-40) (1) sec. 6; 
Memo, G-i for TAG, 11 Jan 41, and Rad, TAG 
to CG Fifth Corps Area, 11 Jan 41, both in AG 
220.3 (12-21-40) (5-22-40) (1) sec. 6. 



EXPANDING NEGRO STRENGTH 



109 



Cadres for the medical detachments of 
Negro regiments and battalions, in- 
cluding the Regular Army units, were 
furnished by the Colored Medical De- 
tachment at West Point and by medical 
personnel at Fort Huachuca. 77 These 
sources could furnish "necessarily small" 
cadres only. As a result, the fourteen- 
man cadre sent to Fort Bragg in March 
1941 had to be shared by medical de- 
tachments of three regiments, and the 
eleven-man cadre sent to Camp Living- 
ston was shared by the detachments of 
three regiments and one separate battal- 
ion. Within a month these new detach- 
ments were being called upon to furnish 
cadres for other units. 78 

The cadre problem persisted, some- 
times taking other forms. As late as 
the summer of 1942, staff officers at 
Headquarters, Army Ground Forces, 
were still pondering the wisdom of re- 
quiring one type of unit to furnish a 
cadre for a different type of unit, though 
this measure had been resorted to many 
times before. They pointed to the ex- 
ample of a truck company which, al- 
though it had no such technicians, was 
called upon to furnish a cadre, including 
shop foremen, for a light maintenance 
company. Ground Forces G-3 ex- 
plained that the sole Negro light main- 
tenance companies then active had only 
their original cadres. Neither of the 
Quartermaster Replacement Training 
Centers could furnish further technicians 
from their limited instructor and over- 
head personnel without seriously affect- 
ing training at the centers. The only 



77 Ltr, TAG to All Army and Corps Area Comdrs 
and Superintendent USMA, 29 Feb 41, AC 320.2 
(1-24-41) E-C. 

18 Ltr, First Army to TAG, and a Inds, a Apr 41, 
AG 520.2 (4-2-41) . 



Negro units left with a certain amount 
of mechanical training were the truck 
companies. Ground Forces G-4 sug- 
gested the use of graduates of the Hamp- 
ton Quartermaster School, but these men 
lacked the military and leadership train- 
ing necessary for good cadremen. 76 In 
another case, half of the men sent to 
two new signal construction companies 
by an antiaircraft regiment were rated 
so poor in ability by the receiving unit 
that it felt that it would be impossible to 
train and use them as cadremen. No 
investigation was ordered because, after 
fifteen indorsements and several weeks 
of effort, Army Ground Forces had been 
unable to fix the responsibility for the 
equally poor quality of the cadre pre- 
viously sent out by the same regiment. 60 
Cadre problems in Negro units lasted 
up to the end of the war. In the late 
fall of 1944, for example, the Engineer 
Training Center at Fort Lewis, Wash- 
ington, was using white cadres to train 
Negro troops. As fast as Negroes com- 
pleted training and qualified for occu- 
pational specialities, they replaced the 
white cadremen. Nevertheless, in May 
of the following year, some cadres there 
were still all white, some were mixed, 
and only one was all Negro. While the 
white cadremen could be employed in 
the training center, and while the use 
of mixed cadres was proceeding with- 
out difficulty, the white cadremen could 
not be assigned to the organized units 
themselves. It was therefore necessary 
to devise all possible means to develop 



w M/S, AGF G-4 Trans to AGF G-3 Opns, 10 
Jul 4a; Opns to Trans, 16 Jul 42; G-4 Trans to 
G-3 Opns, 20 Jul 42. All in AGF 320.4/1 (Cadre) . 

80 Ltr, Hq AGF to CG AAC, 24 Jul 42, and at- 
tached DF, AGF 320.2/120 (AA Comd) . 



110 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Negroes to replace white cadremen 
when units left the center. 81 

The initial problems in the expansion 
of Negro strength, with the exception of 
cadre difficulties, were relatively minor 
when compared with later questions in- 
volving the use of Negro troops and 
when compared with the larger ques- 
tions of full-scale mobilization involving 
the Army as a whole. They affected 
the administrative processes of the Army 
more than they affected the troops them- 
selves. They did serve to delay and at 
times to confuse the orderly process of 
establishing and training Negro units. 



ffl Ltrs, Maj Charles H. Flournoy to CofE, 5 Dec 
44 and 36 May 45, both in OCE 291.2. 



They had as well a nuisance value that 
affected the views of higher headquarters 
on the entire question of the employ- 
ment of Negro troops. The larger 
questions affecting directly the planned 
employment of Negro troops and the 
training, morale, and efficiency of these 
troops were yet to come. These were 
primarily internal Army problems which 
could not be settled by adjusted quotas, 
expanded construction, or by appeals to 
civilian communities urging them to re- 
member their higher obligations to the 
nation in time of war. They could be 
solved only by a rigorous examination of 
Army organization, practice, and policy 
as they affected the employment of Ne- 
gro manpower. 



CHAPTER V 

Units: The Quota Phase 



According to the policy of the War 
Department announced in October 1940, 
Negro units were to be provided in all 
arms and services of the Army. Accord- 
ing to mobilization regulations, assign- 
ments of Negroes to the combat arms 
were to be in the same ratio as those of 
whites. In reality, during the early 
months of mobilization certain branches 
remained exempt from using any consid- 
erable portion of Negro troops. Other 
branches found themselves absorbing 
Negroes greatly in excess of their propor- 
tion of the draft. This development 
had been clearly foreseen by the plan- 
ners of the late thirties, but attempts to 
distribute Negroes in equal proportion 
to all branches were resisted by the 
chiefs of those arms and services which 
had not traditionally contained Negro 
units. Though the War Department 
G-i and G-3 Divisions continued to 
warn that these branches must make 
provision for receiving increased num- 
bers of Negroes and although most of 
these branches began to make plans for 
the eventual increase of their Negro 
units, the actual provision of units, out- 
side of the Corps of Engineers, the 
Quartermaster Corps, and the Chemical 
Warfare Service, advanced slowly. 

The Distribution Problem 

At the end of 1941, the bulk of the 
nearly 100,000 Negroes then in the Army 



were in the branches to which they had 
been allotted in mobilization plans. 
Three-fifths of the entire number were 
almost equally divided among infantry, 
engineer, and quartermaster units. An- 
other fourth were in field and coast artil- 
lery units. The small number remain- 
ing were scattered among all other 
branches. Despite the large percentage 
of all Negroes who were in the infantry, 
including Regular and National Guard 
units, only 5 percent of all infantry en- 
listed men were Negroes. In the Air 
Corps, Medical Department, and Signal 
Corps less than 2 percent of all enlisted 
men were Negroes. But approximately 
every fourth man in the Corps of Engi- 
neers and every sixth man in the Quar- 
termaster Corps was a Negro. Every 
seventh man (14.6 percent) in the 
Chemical Warfare Service was a Negro. 
Of all men who were unassigned or who 
were in miscellaneous detachments, 27 
percent were Negroes. 

In the next seven months, during 
which the number of Negro enlisted 
men in the Army reached 200,000, their 
distribution tended to become even 
more unbalanced. The proportions of 
Negroes in the Quartermaster and Engi- 
neer Corps increased to the point where 
it appeared possible that every nontech- 
nical unit in those branches would soon 
be Negro. Proportions in the Medical 
Department increased slightly. On the 
other hand, in the Air and Signal Corps 



112 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Negro representation declined to less 
than 1 percent of total enlisted strength. 
Since the Air Corps and the Arms and 
Services with Army Air Forces 
(ASWAAF) were increasing in strength 
at a faster rate than any of the ground 
arms and services, what had long been ap- 
parent now became even more obvious: 
the distribution of Negroes among the 
arms and services had to be made more 
nearly equitable, and the Air Corps, 
especially, had to increase its percentage 
of Negro enlisted men. The overrepre- 
sentation of Negroes in engineer and 
quartermaster units and their underrep- 
resentation in the units of other branches 
also led to reconsideration of their em- 
ployment in types of units, including di- 
visions, other than those originally pro- 
vided. 

Selective Service pressure on the Army 
to accept increasingly large numbers of 
Negroes as they became available 
through the draft accentuated the need 
for new units. Selective Service and the 
War Department discussed "this ex- 
tremely troublesome problem" fre- 
quently, with Selective Service, on 
occasion, threatening to abandon the 
procedure of delivering white and Negro 
selectees on the basis of separate calls as 
requested by the Army in favor of 
selection by order number without re- 
gard to color quotas. 1 The dispropor- 
tionate numbers of Negroes passed over 
in filling Army color quotas was proving 
embarrassing to Selective Service in its 
public relations. The legality of the 
whole procedure of separate calls by 
color was being questioned. 

War Department agencies suggested 



several replies to Selective Service's pro- 
posal to abandon calls by separate color 
quotas: Troop units had been planned 
on the basis of population ratios and 
could not be altered without a complete 
reorganization; Negroes in excess of 10.6 
percent who happened to be in Class I-A 
could not be inducted without raising 
the question of Negroes carrying more 
than their fair share of the military obli- 
gation of the country; new units, espe- 
cially for the Air Forces, were being 
planned; and, since the Selective Service 
Act did not limit the obligation for train- 
ing Negroes to the Army, the Navy, too, 
should be requested to assume its share 
of the responsibility. The War Depart- 
ment formally answered Selective Serv- 
ice in a "non-committal" fashion stating 
that it was not unmindful of the problem 
and that Selective Service would be kept 
informed of studies of reallocation and 
reorganization then under way. 2 

In the summer of 1942, the first criti- 
cal shortage of men needed to fill units 
activated in excess of original plans oc- 
curred. For July the Army sent a 
supplemental call for 65,000 white and 
10,000 Negro men to Selective Service. 
The Director of Selective Service, Maj. 
Gen. Lewis B. Hershey, refused to honor 
the call until its racial proportions were 
readjusted. He accepted a revised call 
for 50,000 whites and 20,000 Negroes 
with the understanding that the August 
call would contain an even heavier pro- 
portion of Negroes. "Otherwise, we 
feel," G-i explained, "that popular de- 
mands will cause the question to be 
placed before the War Manpower Board. 
This should be avoided at all costs as it 



l Ltr, Dir Selective Sv to SW, 18 Sep 41, AG 
324.7! (9-18-41). 



s Ltr, and Memo for Record attached, TAG to 
Dir Selective Sv, n Oct 41, AG 324.71 (9-18-41). 



UNITS: THE QUOTA PHASE 



113 



would probably result in the Army being 
forced to accept [men] from the Selec- 
tive Service System in accordance with 
their order numbers without regard to 
color." 3 

While successive communications 
from Selective Service and the interested 
public were coming in, various plans for 
the placement and utilization of Negro 
inductees were proposed and a few of 
these were tried. But the only plan 
which would serve to keep the backlog 
of selectees low enough to satisfy Selec- 
tive Service would be one that provided 
enough units for Negroes. Accordingly, 
the arms and services were told again 
and again that each must make available 
a proportionate share of its units for 
Negro enlisted men. Under the pres- 
sure of providing sufficient units for Ne- 
groes, the organization of units for the 
sake of guaranteeing vacancies became 
a major goal. In some cases, careful 
examination of the usefulness of the 
types of units provided was subordinated 
to the need to create units which could 
receive Negroes. As a result, several 
types of units with limited military value 
were formed in some branches for the 
specific purpose of absorbing otherwise 
unwanted Negroes. Conversely, certain 
types of units with legitimate and im- 
portant military functions were filled 
with Negroes who could not function 
efficiently in the tasks to which they were 
assigned. 

Ground Units for the Air Forces 

The branch singled out for much of 
the public, political, and internal mili- 
tary pressure to expand its use of Ne- 

a Memo, G-i for CofS, 5 Jun 42. WDCSA 291.21 
(6-5-42) • 



groes was the Air Corps. Public pres- 
sures, as explained previously, were the 
result of long-term campaigns which 
succeeded in achieving political and 
press support. Military pressures came 
from other arms and services and from 
the general staff divisions. As the lack 
of balance in proportionate distribution 
became greater among the arms and 
services, the War Department and the 
ground arms and services became con- 
vinced that at least part of the answer 
to the problem lay with the Air Corps. 
If the Air Corps, rapidly becoming the 
largest of the Army's branches, absorbed 
more Negroes, pressure on the ground 
arms and services to provide more and 
more Negro units would be lessened. 
This thinking was later applied as well 
to the Air Forces as a whole, for if the 
Arms and Services with the Army Air 
Forces accepted more Negro units, they 
could absorb part of the Negro person- 
nel which the ground arms and services 
would otherwise have to accept. 

Because of its high enlistment appeal 
the Air Corps, in the earlier period of 
expansion, was able to obtain a majority 
of its men through regular enlistment 
channels. Since only selectees were af- 
fected by the Selective Service Act's 
racial clauses, only that portion of the 
Air Corps personnel which came through 
the draft was affected by rulings on pro- 
portionate Negro strength. 

In the fall of 1940, the Air Corps was 
informed that it would receive 35,000 
selectees as its 1941 spring quota. Of 
these, 9 percent, or 2,250 would be Ne- 
gro. The Air Corps proposed, ini- 
tially, that these Negro enlisted men be 
placed in "air base detachments." 
These units were to be trained and em- 
ployed as parts of air base groups. De- 



114 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



tachments would be authorized when 
Negro selectees were sent to a given air 
base. Although they were to be carried 
in the tables of organization of air base 
groups, the base "detachment" was in- 
tended to prevent mixing Negroes and 
whites in the same unit. In a "corrected 
version" suggested by G— 3, the Air 
Corps substituted 250-man "training 
squadrons (separate) " to be over and 
above the regular Air Corps allotment 
of selectees and to be completely separate 
from air base groups. This arrange- 
ment, by which the Air Corps allotment 
of selectees rose from 25,000 to 27,250 
men, would prevent interference with 
the planned use of the original 25,000 
white selectees on whom the Air Corps 
had counted for its combat group expan- 
sion program. 4 

Before activation of the first nine avi- 
ation training squadrons in June 1941, 
it was explained that they were being 
organized "solely to take care of the 
colored selectees allotted to the Air 
Corps . ..." 5 They were later described 
as activated "to aid in the many duties 
which must be performed to keep in 
order the stations of the AAF within the 
continental limits of the United States." 
They were intentionally left with their 
duties vaguely denned so that local com- 
manders might have discretion in the 
uses to which they were put. 6 

Aviation squadrons, as these units 



4 Ltr, OCofAC to TAG, 3 Oct 40; Memo, G-3 
for TAG, 12 Oct 40; Ltr, OCofAC to TAG, 10 Oct 
40; Memo, OCofAC for G-3, 10 Oct 40. All in AG 
320.2 Air Corps (10-3-40) (i). 

5 Memo, G-3 for G-i, 4 Mar 41, AG 580.7 <t- 
27-41) . 

6 Memo, DCofAS for Asst CofAS, Tng, 9 Oct 42; 
Memo, CofAS for DCofS, 14 Oct 42; Ltr, Air AG 
to CG AFCC, CG TTC, 6 Mar 42. All in AAF 
agi.aB, 



were later called, were established at 
every major air base. The troop basis 
of the Army Air Forces, by 30 June 1942, 
provided for 184 such squadrons. A 
total of 266 were eventually activated. 7 
A few of these squadrons operated under 
specific tables of organization, but the 
vast majority came under the bulk allot- 
ment system, under which personnel 
was allotted to particular commands and 
headquarters which, in turn, allotted 
personnel to particular units as required 
by the using installation. Their 
strengths therefore fluctuated according 
to the determined needs of the station 
to which they were assigned. Aviation 
squadrons were thereby enabled to ab- 
sorb, within reasonable limits, as many 
or as few selectees at a given time as 
were necessary to maintain the desired 
distribution of Negroes within the Air 
Corps. 

Another type of Negro unit widely 
employed by the Air Forces was the 
aviation quartermaster truck company or 
air base transportation platoon. These 
were technically units of the arms and 
services with the Air Corps and not Air 
Corps units. They served to absorb the 
initial proportion of Negroes allotted to 
the services with the Air Corps. In De- 
cember 1940, the Air Corps learned that 
it was being allotted 3,627 Negro en- 
listed men for duty with its arms and 
services. "If this is correct," the chief 
of the Air Corps Plans Division observed, 



'Most of these, permanently assigned to airfields, 
were inactivated in 1944, their personnel being 
absorbed in one or another of the sections of the 
new AAF base units. While these sections were 
technically parts of the same base unit, the fact 
that each had its own commander and morning 
report made each a separate unit in conformity 
with the 16 October 1940 policy requiring separate 
Negro units. 



UNITS: THE QUOTA PHASE 



115 



"it appears that every Quartermaster 
Truck Company assigned to duty at Air 
Corps stations will be colored. There 
may be additional colored personnel of 
some other service at a few stations." 8 
Preparations were made to receive these 
units, which averaged 70 enlisted men 
each. It was suggested that future bar- 
racks construction at each station provide 
one or two barracks units separated from 
others so that "necessary segregation" 
would be possible if and when the allot- 
ment of Negro troops to the Air Corps 
was increased further by the War De- 
partment. The truck companies, but 
not the transportation platoons, were 
generally assigned to service groups. 
Companies were organized either under 
definite tables or by allotment. Pla- 
toons were generally allotment units. 

By the end of 1941 the authorized 
squadrons and service units with the Air 
Forces could no longer absorb all of the 
men which the Air Forces had to take 
if it was to come close to its proportion- 
ate share of Negro strength. As long as 
the Air Forces did not absorb its share 
of the increase of Negroes, G-3 insisted, 
ground branches could expect to con- 
tinue to be "overloaded with colored 
due in part to the fact that in the past 
they have absorbed a considerable num- 
ber of the colored personnel resulting 
from expansion of the Army Air 
Forces." 9 During 1942 the Army was 
to expand to 3,600,000 men. Of these, 
337>75° were to be Negroes. The Air 
Forces, which was to expand to 997,687 
—more than a quarter of the entire 
Army— was allotted 53,299 Negroes in 
1942, or 10.6 percent of its total increase 

8 Memo, CofAC Plans Div to Chief Buildings 
and Grounds, g Dec 40, AAF sgi,?A. 
* Memo, G-3 for CofS, 6 Jan 42, OCS 20602-849. 



of 502,822 men. This number, added 
to the 24,293 Negroes previously allotted 
(most of whom had not yet been ac- 
cepted) , would give the Air Forces a 
total of 77,592 Negroes. 10 

The Air Forces contended that the 
maximum number of Negroes which it 
could use was 20,739 in the Air Corps 
and 23,468 in its services, a total of 
44,207. 11 If the Air Forces allotment 
were reduced, ground units would then 
have to absorb the excess 33,385 Negroes 
in addition to the 260,158 already allot- 
ted them. Ground forces could do so 
only if two white divisions in the troop 
basis were converted to Negro or if two 
white divisions plus several nondivi- 
sional units were deleted and unneeded 
Negro separate rifle battalions were sub- 
stituted. To prevent this, G-3 recom- 
mended that the Air Forces be required 
to accept its 53,299 Negroes out of the 
1942 increase in the Army. The Chief 
of Staff approved, adding the stipulation 
that air base defense units "for the num- 
ber of air bases found necessary" be or- 
ganized and that Negro personnel be 
used for this purpose as required. 12 

Initially 23,000 Negroes were allotted 
to airdrome defense units, as the air 
base security battalions were originally 
called. While all of the original units 
were Negro, the Chief of Staff's decision 
required that provision be made for the 
future use of similar white units. Nev- 
ertheless, except for a few white units 
formed for almost immediate overseas 
use in specific areas, most units activated 
were Negro. 



10 Ibid. 

a Memo, AAF A-i to WD G-3, 29 Jan 42, AAF 
2Q1.2B. 

"Memo, DCofS for G-3, 12 Feb 42, OCS 20602- 
«49- 



116 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



The air base security battalions were 
designed to protect air bases against 
riots, parachute attacks, and air raids. 
They were to be equipped with rifles, 
machine guns, and 37-mm. (and possibly 
75-mm.) guns. 13 Though there was 
some confusion in the minds of com- 
manders and civilian officials on the 
point, these battalions were in addition 
to and not substitutes for military police, 
guard squadrons, and aviation squad- 
rons. Army Ground Forces was given 
jurisdiction over the activation and train- 
ing of these units. Upon completion of 
training, the battalions were to pass to 
Army Air Forces control. From the be- 
ginning the personnel allotted to the 
units counted toward the Air Forces 
quota of Negro troops. 14 

The air base security battalions were 
the last of the special units employed to 
help absorb the Air Forces quota of Ne- 
gro enlisted men. The original 1942 
program called for a total of 67 air base 
security battalions, 57 of them to be 
Negro. The program was later ex- 
panded to a total of 103 units. 
Through 1943, 296 were planned, 261 
of which were to be Negro. Not all of 
these were activated. Future Air Forces 
expansion into new types of units for 
Negroes took place in the Arms and 
Services with the Air Forces and in the 
combat and related units of the Air 
Corps. 

Flying Units 

The question of Air Corps flying units 
for Negroes was an old one. 15 In the 



fall of 1940, after a public announcement 
in September that Negro troops were 
being developed for "the aviation serv- 
ice," the Chief of Staff called upon G-3 
to consider and make recommendations 
for the training of Negro aviation me- 
chanics with the ultimate objective of 
establishing a Negro combat unit. 16 For 
weeks, Air Corps agencies found flaws 
in all suggestions made for beginning 
this training. The Chicago School of 
Aeronautics, suggested by G— 3, gave fly- 
ing training but not mechanic training 
and therefore could not be used. The 
Aeronautical University of Chicago gave 
mechanic training, but its students were 
housed in a Y.M.C.A., "which makes it 
manifestly impossible to assign colored 
students under the existing arrange- 
ment." 17 Civilian schools could be 
made to take Negro students but, be- 
cause of locations, housing, messing ar- 
rangements, and concurrent civilian and 
military classes, "such assignment would 
be unjustified without their consent." 
The Air Training and Operations Divi- 
sion felt, therefore, that Negro mechanic 
trainees should be assigned to the Air 
Corps Technical School at Chanute 
Field where they and the facilities they 
were to use would be completely under 
military control. The Air Plans Divi- 
sion on the other hand was certain that 
if this assignment was made "disturb- 
ances and possibly riots will probably 
ensue both at Chanute Field and the 
nearby communities." As an alterna- 
tive it proposed Tuskegee Institute in 
Alabama as the place to initiate such a 



M Ltr, Hq AAF to CofAC, CG AF, CG ACTFC, 
25 Feb 42, AAF 291.2. 

14 WD Cir 59, 194a; Memo, G-3 for CG AGF, 
14 Mar 42, WDGCT 320 (3-14-42) . 

"See above, [pp. 55~°5j 



M Memo, SGS for G-3, 17 Sep 40, OCS 20602-80; 
Memo, SGS for G-3, 20 Sep 40, OCS 20602-83; 
Memo, G-3 for CofAC, 25 Sep 40, AAF 353-9-4-A. 

" Memo, prepared by T&O Div OCofAC for G-g, 
3 Oct 40, AAF 3539-4-A. 



UNITS: THE QUOTA PHASE 



117 



course. "If colored units are to be 
formed," the Air Plans Division stated, 
"colored schools should be provided for 
their training [and] separate schools for 
colored pilot training likewise should be 
organized." 18 The Training and Oper- 
ations Division, in view of the small 
number of Negroes expected and in view 
of the lack of qualified instructors, super- 
visors, and equipment, held out for Cha- 
nute Field as "the best expedient." 19 

At this point of threatened impasse 
General Arnold, Chief of the Air Corps, 
asked, in a marginal note, "Gen. John- 
son How should we go about training 
the colored mechanics for 1 squadron 
with the least trouble and effort?" 20 
Within a week, the Air Corps prepared 
a plan. It recommended to G-3 that, 
"if it is imperative that negro tactical 
units be formed," instruction should be 
undertaken to provide men for one 
Corps and Division Observation Squad- 
ron, with training concentrated at "a 
recognized colored school, such as Tus- 
kegee" in order to eliminate the possi- 
bility of racial difficulties which might 
occur elsewhere. "Although a definite 
decision may have been reached at this 
time to organize colored units in the Air 
Corps," the memorandum continued, 
"no country in the world has been able 
to organize a satisfactory air unit with 
colored personnel." Three years, the 
Air Corps remonstrated, would be nec- 
essary to train a crew chief, two more 
years for a hangar chief, and a total of 



18 Memo, Chief of Air Plans Div for Chief of 
T&O Div OCofAC, 5 Oct 40, AAF 353.9-4-A. 

"Memo, T&O Div for ExO, 15 Oct 40, AAF 
353-9-4-A. 

50 Ibid., marginal note, signed HHA. Italics in 
original. 



ten years for a line chief. 21 That a Ne- 
gro combat unit could be formed in time 
to be of value to the national defense at 
all was doubted. The day after it re- 
ceived this memorandum G-3 called for 
the submission of a plan to train a Negro 
single engine pursuit unit. 22 

In December 1940, the Air Corps sub- 
mitted its full plan, calling for the em- 
ployment of 429 enlisted men and 47 
officers in a pursuit squadron, a base 
group detachment, weather and com- 
munications detachments, and services. 
White noncommissioned officers were to 
be used as inspectors, supervisors, and 
instructors for an indefinite period of 
time. Initial training of technical and 
administrative officers and enlisted men 
was to be given at Chanute Field. Ne- 
gro officers, when qualified, would re- 
place white officers in the squadron and 
in administrative positions on the squad- 
ron's base. Training was to proceed 
by stages through the basic, advanced, 
and unit phases. The elementary phase 
of flying training was to be omitted ini- 
tially by utilization of Negro graduates 
of the CAA's civilian pilot training 
courses. 23 

For a time, the Air Corps sought to 
acquire a field in the vicinity of Chicago 
for the training and eventual station of 
this unit. 24 But the high cost of land, 
the presence of heavily traveled air lanes, 
and the location of available sites in 
areas subject to bad weather and fre- 



a Memo, OCofAC for G-3, 22 Oct 40, AAF 
353.9-4-A. 

52 RS, G-3 for CofAC, 24 Oct 40, Tng of Pers for 
Cld Avn Units, G-3/42914; Memo, OCofAC for 
TAG, 18 Dec 40, AG 580.7 (12-18-40) (2). 

23 Memo, OCofAC for TAG, 18 Dec 40, AG 580.7 
(12-18-40) (2). 

M Ltr, OCofAC to CofAC, 18 Nov 40, AAF 
353-9-4- A > 



118 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



quent flooding caused the Air Corps to 
look elsewhere. An area in the vicinity 
of Tuskegee, where Tuskegee Institute 
had been carrying on a CAA college stu- 
dent flying training program and where 
the institute's president, Frederick D. 
Patterson, had been urging the location 
of additional training facilities, was fi- 
nally settled upon as an airfield location 
for flight training. This plan was sup- 
plemented in the spring of 1941 by the 
authorization of a civil contract school 
for elementary flying training of Negro 
cadets. The school, operated under 
contract by Tuskegee Institute, was lo- 
cated near the town of Tuskegee. 25 

Under Secretary Patterson presented 
the Air Corps plan to Judge Hastie 
for comment. Hastie had already con- 
ferred with General Arnold about the 
possibility of finding Negroes with train- 
ing and experience in aircraft mainte- 
nance with a view to filling Air Corps 
needs in connection with the planned 
project. 26 Now he could see no reason, 
"apart from a desire for racial separa- 
tion," which justified the establishment 
of a separate station for the training of 
a Negro squadron. He saw many valid 
reasons in favor of training Negroes in 
existing Air Corps installations. They 
included maintenance of training stand- 
ards, economical use of instructional 
personnel, and inculcation of morale. 
Hastie observed: 

A squadron in the Air Corps does not 
function in such a way that it can be 
separated from other units, as can such an 
organization as a coast artillery regiment. 
. . . Acquaintance, understanding and 

"Memo, OCofAC foi TAG, 11 Mar 41, AG 580.7 
(3-11-41). 

"Memo, Civ Aide to SW for DCofS, 18 Jan 41, 
AAF 29 1.4 A. 



mutual respect established between blacks 
and whites at the three regular Air Corps 
Training centers can be the most important 
factor in bringing about harmonious racial 
attitudes essential to high morale. Indeed, I 
can think of no other way of accomplishing 
this objective. It cannot be overemphasized 
that the contacts which the Air Corps seem 
to fear cannot be avoided. Such contacts 
should be established normally in the 
training centers. 27 

Hastie predicted that "whatever the at- 
titude of Tuskegee may be, there would 
unquestionably be very great public pro- 
test if the proposed plans should be 
adopted." 

Such protests did come from the Ne- 
gro press and public. They were to be 
typified in the epithet "Lonely Eagles," 
applied to the Tuskegee cadets. Chi- 
cago Negroes and their press were espe- 
cially critical of the plan. General 
Arnold, somewhat baffled by this turn 
of events, remarked later that "these 
people are willing to take a chance on 
losing the whole Tuskegee opportunity 
in order to gamble on obtaining training 
on different circumstances which they 
claim will give them a more even break. 
... It looks as if it is a case of the whole 
or nothing that this group of people are 
waiting for." 28 

In support of its plan, the Air Corps 
pointed out that Randolph, Maxwell, 
and Moffett Fields were already con- 
gested and that the Tuskegee site would 
provide a minimum of delay in getting 
the training of Negroes under way. 
The school would be under the direct 
supervision of the commanding general 



27 Memo, Civ Aide to SW for USW, 31 Dec 40, 
AG 580.7 (12-18-40) (2) . 

28 Memo, DCofS £01 CofS, 20 May 41, AG 580.7 



UNITS: THE QUOTA PHASE 



119 



of Maxwell Field, Alabama. 29 Judge 
Hastie, while not concurring in the plan, 
withdrew his formal opposition on 8 
January 1941. The plan was approved 
by Under Secretary Patterson the same 
day. 30 

While the approval of this plan to 
extend the combat employment of Ne- 
groes to the Air Corps, at least on an 
experimental basis, did not materially 
increase Air Corps absorption of Negro 
selectees— the Negro units planned for 
Tuskegee were primarily made up of 
three-year enlistees— it did serve to in- 
crease the variety of types of units pro- 
vided for Negroes. 31 The 99th Pursuit 
Squadron was activated on 22 March 
1941; it was followed by the 100th 
Squadron, activated on 19 February 
1942. Three school squadrons, two air 
service squadrons, two fighter control 
squadrons, additional fighter and train- 
ing squadrons, two group headquarters, 
and communications, weather, and serv- 
ice detachments necessary for these units 
and for the new airfield were all pro 
vided in 1942. Many of these units 
were not filled for months after activa- 
tion. They did not, therefore, imme- 
diately affect the relative standing of the 
Air Corps in the employment of its 
share of Negro troops. 

The decision to use only Negro at- 
tached units with the new squadrons 
made it necessary to constitute and ac- 
tivate several types of units of the 
ground arms and services not previously 
planned. These included chemical, ord- 

28 Memo, CofAC for ASW, 6 Jan 41, AG 580.7 

(ihNP) (*)■ 

90 Memo, CofAC for SGS, 8 Jan 41; RS, G-3 to 
TAG, 23 Dec 40, approved 8 Jan 41. Both in AG 
580.7 (12-18-40). 

11 Memos, G-i for TAG, a8 Feb 41; CofS, 11 Mar 
41. Both in AG 580.7 (1-27-41) (ia-18-40) (s) . 



nance, and medical detachments for the 
Tuskegee station, two signal aircraft 
warning companies originally intended 
for task force and fighter group assign- 
ment, and signal, quartermaster, medi- 
cal, and ordnance units for the original 
squadrons and for the service group. 
The activation of these Air Forces types 
of ground units gave force to the Army's 
announced policy of establishing Negro 
units in all branches of the service. 

At a press conference announcing the 
decision to form a Negro pursuit squad- 
ron, Under Secretary Patterson stated 
that it was of course part of the policy 
of the Army to have Negro units in each 
branch of the service. A newsman fol- 
lowed with the question, "That means 
a Negro tank corps?" Judge Patterson 
answered, "Everything." When pressed 
for plans on the "tank corps," the Under 
Secretary admitted that he did not know 
that the War Department had "gone 
down into that," but an aide reminded 
the press that although there were no 
plans for tank units, Negroes were al- 
ready in the infantry. 32 This could have 
been taken to mean that since the Infan- 
try was one of the arms contributing 
units to the Armored Force, the question 
of the distribution of Negroes to that 
service was settled, but the statement 
was taken to mean that if the Air Corps 
had taken Negroes, the Armored Force 
would not be far behind. 

Nondivisional Ground Combat Units 

As a matter of fact, the Armored 
Force had already been instructed to 
make a provision for Negro units. The 

32 Memo for SW, 17 Jan 41, Press Conf of Pat- 
terson, USW, 16 Jan 41, 3:00 p.m.-j:^ p.m., in 
Gen Council Room, copy in AAF ggi.gA. 



120 THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 




Maj. Gen. Walter R. Weaver Delivers the Inaugural Address opening the 
new Air Corps School for training Negro aviators at Tuskegee. 



Armored Force, like the Air Corps, had 
contended that, except for experimental 
purposes, it could not afford during 
an emergency to take a proportionate 
share of Negroes. It was too busy with 
the problems of welding a unified force 
out of what was essentially a combina- 
tion of arms to have time for the activa- 
tion and training of Negro armored 
units. The Armored Force suggested that 
its representation be provided by using 
Negroes in lieu of white soldiers in serv- 
ice detachments at the Armored Force 
School and Replacement Center. 
These detachments, to include 574 and 
403 men, respectively, would be used to 
provide chauffeurs, janitors, firemen, 
cooks, basics, and bandsmen. 33 

83 Memo, Hq Armd Force to Ln Off Armd 



G-3 concluded that service detach- 
ments alone would not satisfy require- 
ments. Though the Armored Force 
could argue that it was not, technically, 
a separate branch of the service but a 
combination of arms and services which 
were already taking proportions of Ne- 
groes, G-3 pointed out that the Armored 
Force functioned as a separate branch of 
the service and was accepted by the pub- 
lic as such. It therefore recommended 
that the Armored Force, in addition to 
the two service detachments, activate the 
78th Light Tank Battalion at Camp 
Claiborne, Louisiana, with Negro per- 

Force, 5 Dec 40, AG 320.2 (6-5-40) (3) sec. 3-D. 
A "basic" was an enlisted man with the minimum 
essentials of military training assigned to tasks re- 
quiring little experience and no specialized train- 
ing. 



UNITS: THE QUOTA PHASE 



121 




The Lonely Eagles. Air Corps cadets standing in review on the field at Tuskegee. 



sonnel. 34 This battalion was to be acti- 
vated on 1 June 1941, with 32 white 
enlisted instructors attached to compen- 
sate for the lack of a trained Negro 
cadre. 35 Despite strong objections from 
the Armored Force, 30 two additional 
tank battalions were scheduled. The 
761st was activated on 1 April 1942 and 
the 784th Tank Battalion a year later on 
1 April 1943. The three battalions, 
with the 78th redesignated as the 758th, 
formed the 5th Armored Group, acti- 
vated on 23 May 1942. 

"Memo, G-3 for CofS, 15 Feb 41, approved 25 
Feb 41, G-s/654i-Gen-527; Ltr, TAG to Chief 
Armd Force, 4 Mar 41, AG 320.2 (2-25-41) M 
(Ret) M-C. 

K Ltr, Hq Armd Force to TAG, 6 Mar 41 and 
1st Ind, TAG to Chief Armd Force, 31 Mar 41, 
AG 320.2 (g-6-41) . 

"Memo, CofS for USW, 14 Apr 41, USW 291.2 
Race, Negro. 



In the artillery, the expansion of the 
number of Negro units proceeded in an 
orderly fashion, in accordance with theo- 
ries developed during peacetime. On 
the basis of World War I reports, it was 
believed that Negroes could be em- 
ployed profitably in supporting artillery 
units, especially in the heavier types 
where direct contact with the enemy 
would be least likely. Two antiaircraft 
artillery regiments and one field artillery 
regiment were provided in the August 
1940 expansion. 37 Two National Guard 
infantry regiments were subsequently 
converted and inducted into the federal 
service as artillery units, one as field 



"The 76th and 77th Coast Artillery (AA) and 
349th Field Artillery. Headquarters and additional 
battalions of these units were not provided and 
filled until 1941. 



122 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



artillery and the other as antiaircraft 
artillery. 38 One coast artillery, two 
more antiaircraft artillery, and three 
more field artillery regiments, and a 
field artillery brigade headquarters were 
activated in 1941. 39 By the end of 1942 
eight Negro antiaircraft artillery regi- 
ments, four barrage balloon battalions, 
six separate antiaircraft battalions, and 
two separate searchlight batteries had 
been activated. 40 Two more searchlight 
batteries, which were never filled, were 
also constituted and partially activated. 
At the same time, in addition to the one 
field artillery brigade headquarters and 
division artillery, a total of seven field 
artillery regiments, with fourteen battal- 
ions (two 75-mm. gun, two 155-mm. gun, 
eight 155-mm. howitzer, and two 8-inch 
howitzer) had been activated. 

When antitank battalions were redes- 
ignated tank destroyer battalions in De- 
cember 1941, thus creating what was in 
all major respects a new combat arm, 
two Negro battalions for the new service 
were activated with cadres from two of 
the older field artillery regiments. 41 In 

38 The 8th Illinois Infantry, inducted 10 February 
1941 as the 184th Field Artillery; 36gth Infantry 
(N.Y.) , inducted 13 January 1941 as the 369th 
Coast Artillery (AA) . 

® The 54th Coast Artillery; 99th and 100th 
Coast Artillery (AA); 46th Field Artillery Brigade; 
350th, 351st, and 353d Field Artillery. 

"The additional regiments were the goth, 612th, 
and 613th Coast Artillery (AA) . A tenth, the 84th 
Coast Artillery (AA) , was constituted but two 
batteries only were activated in September 1942. 
This unit had been intended to receive excess 
continental Negroes remaining from a reorganiza- 
tion of the 99th Regiment, then in Trinidad, and 
Puerto Rican Negroes. The unit later became the 
84th Antiaircraft Artillery Gun Battalion, a wholly 
Puerto Rican outfit. 

11 These were the 846th Tank Destroyer Bat- 
talion, activated on 15 December out of the 349th 
Field Artillery, and the 795th Tank Destroyer Bat- 
talion, activated the next day from the 184th Field 
Artillery. 



1942, five more Negro tank destroyer 
battalions were activated, with six more 
scheduled for 1943. Of these latter six, 
four only were activated. 

The Traditional Arms: Divisions 

Although infantry and cavalry regi- 
ments were the traditional types of Ne- 
gro combat units, expansion in these 
arms did not proceed smoothly. The 
general plans for expansion called for 
few separate infantry and cavalry regi- 
ments, and at the beginning of mobiliza- 
tion all-Negro divisions were looked 
upon with disfavor from almost every 
Army quarter. 

As a unit for Negroes the separate 
regiment had a number of advantages 
over the division. The regiment was a 
self-contained unit, able to operate 
alone. It did not require organic sup- 
porting elements demanding personnel 
with knowledge, training, and abilities 
which might not be easily obtained in 
sufficient numbers from among available 
Negro enlisted men. Moreover, it did 
not require the extensive pyramiding of 
leadership and administrative abilities 
which divisions needed if they were to 
function efficiently. In the zone of in- 
terior, regiments could be used as de- 
fense or school troops. Separate Negro 
regiments might be attached or assigned 
to other units for operational purposes. 
After demonstrating the quality of their 
fighting ability, separate regiments 
might be combined into divisions if a 
theater commander felt that such a move 
was either desirable or advantageous. 
Separate Negro regiments might be em- 
ployed as organic elements of divisions 
in which other regiments and units were 
white. 



UNITS: THE QUOTA PHASE 



123 



This last possibility went beyond the 
theory stage. The two Negro Regular 
cavalry regiments were assigned from 
time to time after World War I to the 
new cavalry divisions along with white 
regiments. The 9th and 10th Cavalry 
had so operated with white regiments 
in the past, both in Indian warfare and 
in Cuba, where during the Spanish- 
American War the gth Cavalry had been 
brigaded with the 3d and 6th Cavalry to 
form the 1st Cavalry Brigade and the 
10th Cavalry had been brigaded with the 
1st Cavalry and the 1st U.S. Volunteer 
Cavalry (Roosevelt's Rough Riders) to 
form the ad Cavalry Brigade. Upon 
organization of the 1st Cavalry Division 
in 1921 the 10th Cavalry was assigned to 
its 1st Cavalry Brigade and remained so 
assigned for a little more than a year. 42 
In 1927 the 10th Cavalry, along with the 
11th Cavalry, was assigned to the 5th 
Cavalry Brigade of the inactive 3d Cav- 
alry Division. 43 Under the Four Army 
Organization in 1933, the 9th Cavalry 
was similarly assigned to the 3d Cavalry 
Division, replacing the 11th Cavalry in 
the 5th Brigade, and the 24th Infantry 
was assigned to the 7th Brigade of the 
4th Division along with the 29th Infan- 
try. 44 Although, except for occasional 
maneuvers such as those of the 1st Cav- 
alry Division in Texas in the fall of 1929 
in which the 10th Cavalry participated, 
the Negro regiments were not in close 



"Ltr, TAG to CG's All Corps Areas, 20 Aug 21, 
AG 320.2 (Misc Div); Ltr, TAG to CG's, 11 Sep 
23, AG 370.5 Mex Border (7-20-22) . 

v Ltr, TAG to CG's All Corps Areas, AG 320.2 
(7-5-27) • 

"Ltr, OCoflnf to TAG, 8 Mar 33, AG 320.2 
(8-6-32) sec. i-A; Annex 1, Changes to Conform 
to the Four Army Organization, 1933, Incl 1 to 
Directive for Four Army Organization, AG 320.2 
(8-16-33) (Misc) M-E. 



contact with the white regiments, their 
assignment to divisions with white troops 
was not without precedent. 

In August 1940, when the cavalry re- 
quirements of the Protective Mobiliza- 
tion Plan were revised, the 9th and 10th 
Cavalry were designated for GHQ Re- 
serve. The number of horse cavalry 
divisions was reduced from six to two. 
The 1st Cavalry Division was to be com- 
plete, while the gd Cavalry Division was 
to have its horse cavalry regiments "and 
such other elements as available person- 
nel and equipment permit." 45 Consid- 
eration was given at this time to includ- 
ing the two Negro regiments in the 
Regular Army cavalry divisions. 46 At 
the beginning of mobilization, the 2d, 
3d, 1 ith, and 14th Cavalry were assigned 
to the 2d Cavalry Division. Of these, 
the 3d and 11th Cavalry were not avail- 
able because of their designations for 
other missions. Approved plans for the 
placement of selective service men called 
for the concentration of the 2d, 14th, 
9th, and 10th Cavalry at Fort Riley, 
Kansas, by January 1941. "Although 
the Tabs showing the utilization of selec- 
tive service trainees do not definitely 
assign any particular regiments to the 
2d Cavalry Division the only conclusion 
from them," G-3 stated in October, "is 
that the 2d, 14th, 9th and 10th are so 
assigned." 47 

The Chief of Cavalry objected strenu- 
ously to this organization. "I submit," 



45 Ltr, TAG to CG GHQ, Army, Corps Area and 
Dept Comdrs, Chiefs Arms and Svs, 14 Aug 40, 
AG 381 (8-31-40) M-C-M. 

" Tab C, Differences Between WPD Reqmts 
(Tab A) and PMP Allotments (Tab B) , to Memo, 
G-3 for CofS, 5 Aug 40, AG 320.2 (8-5-40) (3) . 

47 Memo for Record attached to Memo, G-3 for 
TAG, 8 Oct 40, AG 320.2 (10-8-40) (2). 



124 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 




Cavalrymen of the 4th Cavalry Brigade leaving West Riding Hall at Fort Riley 
in March 1941 . 



he wrote to the Chief of Staff on so 
September 1940, "that no consideration 
of convenience or expediency should gov- 
ern the formation of the fighting division 
. . . ." More specifically, he stated: 

It appears to me to be obvious that such 
a unit nonhomogeneous— half white and 
half black, cannot be as effective as a 
homogeneous or all black or all white unit. 
There is not only a difference in color but 
there is a difference in emotional reactions. 
The concentration of a large body of troops 
in one place, approximately half white and 
half black, involves the risk of bitter 
rivalries and racial clashes. I consider this 
to be an unwise improvisation. 



The Chief of Cavalry opposed not only 
the composition of the new division but 
also its proposed location. He felt that 
an all-white 2d Cavalry Division should 
be located on the southern border, at 
Fort Huachuca, Arizona, at Deming, 
New Mexico, or at Fort Bliss, Texas, 
leaving the Negro regiments at Fort 
Riley, Kansas; otherwise, the division 
should stay at Fort Riley, with the 
Negro regiments going to Fort Hua- 
chuca or to Fort Meade, South Dakota. 
Nevertheless, his chief objection was 
to the mixed division. "In making a 
decision on this matter," he concluded, 



UNITS: THE QUOTA PHASE 



125 



"fighting efficiency should be consid- 
ered the controlling factor." 48 

Despite the objections of the Chief of 
Cavalry, the 2d Cavalry Division was 
announced for organization "early in 
1941" at Fort Riley. Its 3d Cavalry 
Brigade was to contain the white 2d and 
14th Cavalry and its 4th Cavalry Bri- 
gade the Negro gth and 10th Cavalry. 49 
According to plan, the activation of other 
division elements was deferred. Bri- 
gade headquarters troops and weapons 
troops were provided in February 1941, 
but the division headquarters and head- 
quarters troop was not activated until 
1 April 1941. 50 The early organization 
and training of the division were there- 
fore considerably hampered. Not until 
November 1941 were all its remaining 
inactive units authorized. 51 All of its 
organic units, except the Negro brigade 
and the truck unit of the quartermaster 
squadron, were activated with white 
troops. Aside from its Negro brigade, 
which made it, in the language of the 
Chief of Staff, "unique" among the di- 
visions, 52 the 2d Cavalry Division as con- 
stituted in 1941 played no special part 

i8 Action Memo, CofCav for CofS, 20 Sep 40, 
AG 320.2 Cav (9-20-40) . 

411 Ltr, TAG to CG's et al, 10 Oct 40, AG 320.2 
(10-8-40) M (Ret) M-C. 

00 Ltr, TAG to CG's Seventh Corps Area and 
Second Army, 12 Feb 41, AG 340.2 (1-31-41) M 
(Ret) M-C; Ltr, TAG to CG's Second Army and 
Seventh Corps Area, Chiefs Arms and Svs con- 
cerned, 26 Mar 41, AG 320.2 (3-12-41) M (Ret) 
M-C. 

61 Ltr, TAG to CG 2d Cav Div, 24 Oct 41, AG 
320.2 (7-17-41) MR-M-C. 

62 Ltr, Gen Marshall to Brig Gen Terry Allen, 
23 May 41, AG 320.2 (5-13-41) (3) ■ Certain other 
units were assigned both Negro and white ele- 
ments, for example, the 18th Field Artillery 
Brigade and the 34th Coast Artillery Brigade 
(AA) , Such brigades, however, were by no means 
comparable to a division in the nature ol their 
tactical employment. 



in the provision of units for the place- 
ment of Negro troops, for it was able to 
absorb only those selectees necessary to 
fill the 9th and 10th Cavalry. 

In the spring of 1942, when the War 
Department decided to increase the 
numbers of armored and motorized di- 
visions, Army Ground Forces recom- 
mended that one of the new divisions 
be provided by conversion of the 2d 
Cavalry Division, less its Negro 4th Cav- 
alry Brigade, to an armored division. 
This recommendation was approved, 
with the exception that the 2d Cavalry 
Division was retained as a cavalry divi- 
sion with only its 4th Cavalry Brigade 
remaining active while its white ele- 
ments were relieved and reassigned to 
the new 9th Armored Division. 53 

Retention of the 2d Cavalry Division 
provided for the future absorption of 
larger numbers of Negro selectees. 
Moreover, there was always the possi- 
bility that need might arise for a trained 
horse cavalry division. "Contrary to 
general opinion," Brig. Gen. Terry Al- 
len, then commander of the 2d Cavalry 
Division, had written to General Mar- 
shall, "I feel that the cavalry still has a 
distinct role in modern warfare, when 
given proper missions and when prop- 
erly trained and led." 54 It was not con- 
sidered politically expedient to reduce 
the cavalry arm to one division only, nor 
was it considered good public relations 
to eliminate the two Regular Negro regi- 
ments. This combination of factors pro- 
vided a new, all-Negro 2d Cavalry 
Division, ready to receive excess Negro 



63 Memo, Hq AGF for G-3, 12 May 42; Memo, 
G-3 for CG AGF, 14 May 42. Both in AGF 320.2/ 
165 GNGPS (5-11-42) . 

"Ltr, Allen to Marshall, 13 May 41, AG 320.2 
(5-13-41) (3) . 



126 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



selectees should it be needed for this pur- 
pose. 55 In November the War Depart- 
ment directed that new units constituted 
for refilling the division be ready for ac- 
tivation on 25 February 1943. 88 On this 
date, the 2d Cavalry Division, the first 
division in World War II to have Negro 
components, became the third with all 
Negro enlisted men, for in the meantime 
two Negro infantry divisions had been 
organized. 

While the 2d Cavalry Division was 
the only unit of its size actually activated 
with Negro and white regiments, con- 
sideration had also been given to the 
formation of an infantry division with a 
combination of Negro and white troops. 
The Chief of Staff, in the fall of 1940, 
had "in mind, in case we are forced to 
organize a colored division," taking the 
two infantry regiments scheduled for lo- 
cation at Fort Huachuca, and adding a 
third Negro infantry regiment, the Ne- 
gro medium artillery regiment (349th 
Field Artillery) , and white light artil- 
lery to form a division. 57 The G-3 
Division, asked for comment, replied 
that it did not "look with favor on the 
mixing of colored and white troops in a 
unit (white light artillery units in the 
colored Infantry Division) if there is any 
way of avoiding it, especially where the 
preponderance of troops in the unit are 
colored." 58 There is no evidence that 
subsequent experience with the ad Cav- 



65 Ltr, TAG to CG's AGF, AAF, SOS, 21 Jul 42, 
AG 320.2 (7-17-42) MS-C-M; Ltr, TAG to CG's 
AGF, AAF, SOS, 28 Aug 42, AG 320.2 (8-27-42) 
MS-C-M. 

sa Ltr, TAG to CG Third Army, 23 Nov 42, AG 
320.2 (11-21-42) OB-I-GN-M. 

67 Memo, SGS for G-3, 7 Nov 40, AG 320.2 (11- 
27-40) (2). 

68 Memo, G-3 for CofS, 27 Nov 40, AG 320.2 (11- 
27-40) (2) . 



airy Division served to alter either point 
of view. 

Shortly before activation of the first 
Negro infantry division, the 93d, in the 
spring of 1942, the Chief of Staff's office 
noted an increasing volume of mail ask- 
ing for the organization of a volunteer 
mixed Negro and white division. 59 
Among those urging the formation of a 
mixed division were a number of widely 
known civilians, including Dorothy Can- 
field Fisher, the novelist; Samuel Mc- 
Crea Cavert, General Secretary of the 
Federal Council of the Churches of 
Christ in America; Msgr. John A. 
Ryan, Director of the National Catholic 
Welfare Association's Department of 
Social Action; and Mary E. Woolley, 
former president of Mt. Holyoke Col- 
lege.* Letters from organizations such 
as the NAACP and The Council Against 
Intolerance, from their members, and 
from college professors and students also 
came into the War Department in large 
numbers. Many of the letters spoke of 
the symbolic importance that such a unit 
would have on both the national and the 
international scene as an earnest of na- 
tional faith in democracy and as an an- 
swer to Japanese propaganda that the 
war was a color-based conflict. 

In answering these letters, the War 
Department pointed out that the volun- 
teer system was "an ineffective and dan- 
gerous" method of raising combat units 
and that the use of the volunteer system 



59 The suggestion for the formation of this di- 
vision appears to have originated at a conference 
of Negro editors, held on 8 December 1941, the 
day after Pearl Harbor. The NAACP and Negro 
newspapers supported the suggestions. See below, 

I pp. 143-44I 

60 DF, G-3 for CofS, 10 Feb 42, AG 291.21 (2-6- 
42) MB; Ltrs in AG 291.21 (12-22-41) (1); Ltrs 
in AG 291.2, Jan-Feb 42. 



UNITS: THE QUOTA PHASE 



127 



would interfere with the "scientific and 
orderly selective processes" used by the 
Army. "Although, as you point out," 
Mrs. Fisher was told, "it would be an 
encouraging gesture towards certain mi- 
norities, the urgency of the present mili- 
tary situation necessitates our using 
tested and proved methods of procedure, 
and using them with all haste. It pro- 
hibits our initiating experiments except 
where they will lead to the fulfillment 
of pressing military needs." 61 

Despite the volume of requests for a 
volunteer mixed division— and such re- 
quests continued to reach the War De- 
partment periodically until near the end 
of the war— when Negro divisions were 
finally decided upon, the motivating in- 
fluence for their formation was more the 
need for additional organizations to take 
care of the increasing number of Negroes 
available to the Army than either the 
military or the public pressures involved. 
After Pearl Harbor, when it w r as obvious 
that the Army would increase its total 
size ever more rapidly— bringing with it 
more and more Negroes— the advantages 
of forming all-Negro divisions gained in 
attractiveness and support. Divisions 
could absorb 15,000 and more men each. 
With their elements and supporting 
units, furthermore, they afforded repre- 
sentation in almost every arm and serv- 
ice. They provided, as well, an answer to 
requests for a "division" without com- 
mitting the Army on the volunteer 
mixed unit question or on any of the 
possible combinations of white and Ne- 
gro units which had been suggested 
during the period of planning. 

By the end of 1941, as the 1942 Troop 
Basis took shape, it appeared that the 

01 Ltr, CofS to Mrs. Dorothy Canfield Fisher, 16 
Feb 42, OCS 30602-254, 



Army of 3,600,000 men scheduled for 
1942 would have a total of 71 divisions, 
32 of them new infantry divisions and 
4 of them new armored divisions. The 
Army would have to take 177,000 new 
Negroes during the year as a proportion- 
ate share of its increased strength. Even 
if the Air Forces and the ground arms 
and services took the maximum number 
of Negroes in the nondivisional units 
provided, a considerable excess would 
still remain, If all types of units were 
to have Negro representation, it was ar- 
gued, divisions should be included. In- 
fantry divisions, it was pointed out, 
would not have to be built up from 
scratch, for separate Negro infantry regi- 
ments already existed. They could be 
used to give divisions a leaven of experi- 
ence. The peacetime 24th and 25th 
Infantry Regiments, the new 366th, 
367th, and 368th Regular regiments, and 
the 372d National Guard Regiment were 
available for this purpose. The 366th 
Infantry, activated on 10 February 1941; 
the 372d, inducted 10 March 1941; the 
368th, activated 1 March 1941; and the 
367th, activated on 25 March 1941, all 
had had considerable training by the 
end of 1941. 

During the period of discussion of the 
Troop Basis for 1942, estimates of the 
total number of divisions needed if the 
Army should be called upon for offensive 
operations reached 200. 62 That four of 
these (plus half a cavalry division) 
should be Negro did not at the time 
appear to be excessive since, on a pro- 
portionate basis, twenty divisions would 
have been Negro. The first of the Ne- 
gro divisions, the 93d, was planned for 
activation in the spring of 1942. It 

32 Ltr, CofS GHQ to G-3, 6 Dec 41, GHQ 320.2/ 
58. 



128 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



would utilize two of the existing infan- 
try regiments, the 25th and the 368th, 
as a nucleus and expand to full size. If 
the Army Air Forces took its full quota 
and all services and separate units of the 
arms took the maximum practicable 
number of Negroes, "three additional 
colored divisions are the minimum essen- 
tial to provide for the disposition of ap- 
proximately 177,000 additional Negroes 
that will enter the Army . . . ," G-3 
determined. The Troop Basis for 1942 
therefore scheduled four Negro infantry 
divisions. 83 

But snags developed in this program. 
G-i pointed out that if too many Ne- 
groes entered the Army in the early 
months of 1942 they would have to be 
placed in camps where recreational fa- 
cilities were not available. G-4 could 
make no commitment on the dates when 
suitable stations would be available for 
large numbers of Negroes. Although di- 
visions were large units which, with over- 
strength, could absorb large numbers of 
Negroes, the problem of locations and 
housing, not to mention training, was 
vastly more complicated for them than 
for nondivisional units. The activation 
dates of the three additional divisions 
could be placed near the end of the 
calendar year, but since they were to 
furnish cadres to each other in turn it 
would be next to impossible to activate 
them all at nearly the same time. It 
was decided to limit the activations of 
Negro divisions in 1942 to two and carry 
the additional two divisions into 1943. 
Thus, the 93d Division could provide 
the cadre for the g2d Division in October 
1942; the 92d could cadre another divi- 
sion in April 1943 and this new division 

•» Memo, G-3 for CofS, 9 Jan 4a, AG 381 (Mob 
and Tng Plan 194a) (13-12-41). 



could provide a cadre for the fourth 
Negro infantry division in August 
1943. 64 The 93d and g2d Divisions were 
activated as scheduled, but the defer- 
ment of the other two of the 1942 Negro 
divisions left 29,000 Negroes to be 
placed in smaller units during the cal- 
endar year. 

The decision to retain the 2d Cavalry 
Division, whose inactive elements were 
to be provided by early 1943, helped 
alleviate the pressure for the mainte- 
nance of a balance among combat units. 
Although it was clear that they would be 
activated only as a last resort, the addi- 
tional Negro infantry divisions remained 
in the projected troop basis for 1943 for 
the same reason as well as to absorb pro- 
jected increases of Ground Forces Negro 
strength should they be needed for this 
purpose. 

Service Units 

The demand for service units became 
an ever increasing one in the expanding 
Army. The provision of service units 
for Negroes, especially in the Corps of 
Engineers and Quartermaster Corps, was 
originally accompanied by little debate, 
for it was generally agreed that Negro 
troops could be employed to advantage 
in such units. By April 1942, 42 per- 
cent of all engineer and 34 percent of all 
quartermaster units were Negro. Un- 
like those of some other arms and serv- 
ices these engineer and quartermaster 
units, even when created to absorb men 
made available by other branches' can- 
celed allotments, were usually activated 
to fill specific military needs. 

Although only one Negro engineer 



"Incl 1 to Ltr, Hq AGF to CG's AU Newly- 
Activated Inf Divs, 33 Apr 43, AGF 320.2/9 (Inf) . 



UNITS: THE QUOTA PHASE 



129 



general service regiment was provided 
in the 1940 PMP, from the formation of 
the 41st Regiment in August 1940 to the 
end of 1942 twenty-seven engineer gen- 
eral service regiments were activated 
with Negro enlisted men. An equal 
number was to be added in later years. 
One engineer aviation regiment and 
nineteen battalions were activated by 
the end of 1942, with a larger number 
following in succeeding years. Separate 
engineer battalions, engineer water sup- 
ply battalions and companies, and dump 
truck and aviation engineer companies 
accounted for the majority of the remain- 
ing engineer units activated with Ne- 
groes in the period 1940-42. 

Quartermaster truck and service units 
were always in demand in the expanding 
Army. Later, as more and more troops 
were shipped to overseas theaters, re- 
quests for these units were generally 
greater than the number and the ship- 
ping space available. The many types 
of Negro quartermaster units activated 
between 1940 and the end of 1942 in- 
cluded truck, service, car, railhead, bak- 
ery, salvage repair, salvage collecting, 
laundry, fumigation and bath, gas sup- 
ply, sterilization, and pack units, rang- 
ing in size from regiments to detach- 
ments. Before the war was over, there 
were more than 1,600 Negro quarter- 
master companies, plus headquarters, 
bakery, laundry, and driver detach- 
ments, separate platoons, and provisional 
units of various types and sizes. During 
the same period, the Quartermaster 
Corps, before the establishment of a 
separate Transportation Corps, organ- 
ized Negro port battalions and compa- 
nies. Subsequently, the Transportation 
Corps itself organized a considerable 
number of port and amphibian truck 



companies for employment at home and 
overseas. 

In the rapid expansion of its Negro 
units, the Quartermaster Corps could 
not avoid problems common to other 
branches of the Army. As early as Au- 
gust 1941 the personnel requirements of 
Negro quartermaster units began to ex- 
ceed the current supply of trainees grad- 
uating from quartermaster replacement 
training centers. To fill high priority 
quartermaster units scheduled for the 
autumn of 1941, certain quartermaster 
units were furnished men from the engi- 
neer, field artillery, coast artillery, in- 
fantry, and cavalry replacement training 
centers. Each of these centers had a 
surplus of Negro trainees who, as over- 
strength— lacking units for assignment- 
would otherwise present housing and 
assignment difficulties for their branches. 
Filling high priority quartermaster units 
with this surplus helped solve the prob- 
lem of placing these men. 65 

A third branch, the Chemical Warfare 
Service, continued to provide units for 
more than its proportionate share of 
Negro troops from the activation of the 
1st Chemical Decontamination Company 
onward. It was generally felt that Ne- 
groes could serve well in chemical units. 
Additional decontamination companies 
were provided. Negroes were also 
placed in smoke generator companies; 
chemical maintenance companies, avia- 
tion; chemical depot companies, avia- 
tion; and chemical platoons, airdrome. 
One chemical service, one chemical mo- 
torized, and one chemical processing 
company were activated in 1942. The 

* Memo, G-3 for TAG, and attached Memo for 
Record, G-3/46578, 7 Aug 41, AG 344.71 (8-7-41) 
(15); Ltr, TAG to CofAAF, 26 Aug 41, AG 324.71 
(8-7-4.) fc-c. 



130 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



majority of the new chemical units for 
Negroes were smoke generator compa- 
nies, many of them added to the troop 
basis during 1942 to fill expected needs 
of offensive operations being planned in 
that year. A number of these units 
were to be activated, trained, and ini- 
tially used by defense commands. 66 

The Medical Department, as already 
noted, experienced considerable diffi- 
culty in providing units for its share of 
Negro selectees. The whole question 
of medical units, as distinct from medi- 
cal detachments with units of other arms 
and services, was inextricably inter- 
woven with that of the utilization of 
Negro physicians, dentists, and nurses, 
which in turn was part of the larger 
question of the use of Negro officers in 
general. Initially, Negro selectees des- 
ignated for the Medical Department 
could be placed in the medical detach- 
ments of Negro regiments and battal- 
ions. As long as these were under- 
strength, the question of the Medical 
Department's increasing its proportion 
of Negro selectees was primarily an aca- 
demic one. But this situation, in which 
vacancies exceeded the available number 
of men, did not last long. 

In the late summer and fall of 1940, 
the Medical Department made over-all 
plans for the employment of its share of 
Negro troops. These plans included 
provisions for both officers and enlisted 
men. The major feature affecting the 
provision of units for Negro troops was 
the proposal for a separate Negro unit 
which became the medical sanitary com- 



m Memo, OPD for CG's AGF and SOS, 6 May 42, 
AGF 320.2/14 (CWS); Ltr, WD to CG's Central 
and Western Defense Cornels and Edgewood Ar- 
senal, Md., 16 May 42, AG 320.2 (5-15-42) MR- 
M-GN. 



pany of World War II. Originally 
called "medical companies, separate, col- 
ored," by The Surgeon General's Office, 
these companies were later termed sani- 
tary companies, in conformance with the 
policy that no units were to be desig- 
nated by race and that no special tables 
of organization were to be made for 
Negro troops which did not apply to 
white troops as well. 67 

The sanitary companies were origi- 
nally intended to provide ward and pro- 
fessional services for hospitals having one 
hundred or more Negro patients, cared 
for in separate wards. After it was de- 
termined that such services would be 
administratively uneconomical, the units 
were thought of as hospital service units, 
containing men who could replace the 
approximately 180 white enlisted men 
normally used as chauffeurs, cooks, 
cooks' helpers, orderlies, and basics in a 
general hospital. The units would be 
assigned or attached to general hospitals. 
They would be housed, messed, and ad- 
ministered separately, under the com- 
mand of Negro officers. Where Negro 
professional personnel were assigned to 
a hospital, these companies would pro- 
vide messing and other facilities for 
them. 

As they actually developed, the medi- 
cal sanitary companies became primarily 
labor units employed in addition to the 
general hospital personnel. 88 They be- 
came general service units which might 
be used for any duty considered appro- 
priate by the commander of the unit or 



67 Memo, G-3 for G-i, 5 Nov 40, G—3/42108; 
Memo, G-i for TAG, 13 Nov 40, and 1st Ind, 
TAG to SGO, 15 Nov 40, 2d Ind SGO to TAG, 
20 Nov 40. Last three in AG 320.2 (8-2-40) sec. 6. 

1,8 Memo, G-i for CofS, 15 Jan 41, AG 320.2 
(10-25-40) (8-2-40) (4) , sec. 6. 



UNITS: THE QUOTA PHASE 



131 



station to which they were assigned. 
While the companies were to be assigned 
to all hospitals having 1,000 or more 
beds, lack of funds for the construction 
of the necessary additional housing de- 
layed the activation of the sanitary com- 
panies until the need for new Negro 
units to absorb the Medical Depart- 
ment's quota became more pressing. 6 * 

Only two medical sanitary companies 
were activated in 1941. These two were 
activated "because of pressure on G-i to 
put colored medical personnel on duty" 
and not, as in the case of certain other 
units, primarily for the purpose of ab- 
sorbing surplus Negro selectees. 70 Fif- 
ty-four were added during 1942. A 
larger number was planned for 1943, 
but not all of the units scheduled were 
activated. The 1943 companies were 
available for activation whenever 
monthly Army Service Forces Negro quo- 
tas could not be absorbed elsewhere. 71 
Thirty companies were eventually acti- 
vated in 1943 and one in 1944. Many 
of the 1943 companies were inactivated 
or disbanded in the fall of 1943 or in 
1944 when more vitally needed service 
units were being filled for immediate 
overseas use. 

Aside from station hospitals at Tus- 
kegee and at Fort Huachuca, four field 
hospitals, and scattered veterinary, am- 
bulance, and administrative units, med- 
ical sanitary companies remained the 
major medical units provided for Ne- 
groes. 

Negro military police units were not 



"Memo, G-4 for G-i, 21 Jan 41, 0-4/32470; 
Memo, SGO for TAG, 4 Mar 41, AG 320.2 (3- 
4-41) (8-S-40) (4) sec. 6. 

m Memo for Record, attached to Memo, G-3 for 
TAG, 27 Feb 41, AG 320.2 (2-27-41) , 

71 Cf. Min of Gen Council, 8 Feb 43. 



provided until after local experiments 
with Negro military police detachments 
showed that their use in areas with large 
Negro troop populations paid dividends 
in better order, better relations between 
troops and the military police, and better 
relations with civilians in those com- 
munities which had learned to look upon 
Negro military policemen as something 
less than a threat to local customs. Most 
of these units were small detachments of 
men detailed to military police duty 
from station complements. Among 
them there was little uniformity in pro- 
cedure, organization, or training. Some 
posts used Negro military police on spe- 
cial duty assignments; others used them 
on a full-time basis. Until the estab- 
lishment of the Corps of Military Police 
on 26 September 1941, these units were 
generally under the direct control of 
post and service commanders. 

The directive establishing the new 
Corps of Military Police required re- 
sponsible commanders to report the des- 
ignation, station, and strength, by race, 
of existing units. 72 There were twenty- 
two of these detachments of Negro 
military police on 30 June 1942, ranging 
in size from two men at Fort Sam Hous- 
ton, Texas, to sixty-five at Camp San 
Luis Obispo, California. 73 Ten Negro 
military police battalions (zone of in- 
terior) and three companies were acti- 
vated in August 1942. Two more 
battalions were scheduled, but the War 
Department decided not to activate any 
more Negro units of this type and they 
therefore received white personnel. 
Two Negro prisoner of war escort com- 

™ Ltr, TAG to PMG et ah, 26 Sep 41, AG 320.2 
(9-26-41) MR-M-A. 

73 Tab A to Memo, Chief MP Div OPMG for Dir 
Mil Pers SOS, 23 Oct 42, AG 210.31 (2-14-42) (3) . 




panies were included in the 1942 Troop 
Basis but, on the request of the Provost 
Marshal General, they too were activated 
with white personnel, with G-g stipulat- 
ing that future plans provide for the 
use of Negroes in this duty. 74 

The Ordnance Department provided 
ammunition companies and almost no 
others for the receipt of Negroes. Avi- 
ation ordnance depot and aviation ord- 
nance supply and maintenance compa- 
nies were provided in the Army Air 
Forces; several medium automotive 



"Memo, G-3 for PMG, 11 Feb 42, 0-3/42107; 
Memo, SOS for G-g, 10 Aug 42; Memo, G-3 for 
CG SOS, 12 Aug 42, and Inds. Last three in 
WDGCT 320.2 Actv (8-10-42) . 



maintenance companies in the Army 
Ground Forces were activated with Ne- 
gro enlisted men. 

Signal Corps units for the receipt of 
an increased proportion of Negro en- 
listed men were confined to construction 
and to Air Forces types of signal units. 
One construction company was activated 
in May 1941 and saw early duty in Pan- 
ama. Except for three construction 
companies, and three construction bat- 
talions, all other Negro signal units acti- 
vated in 1942 were Air Forces units. 
These included eleven construction bat- 
talions, two aircraft warning companies, 
and one service group signal company. 
The Signal Corps remained below its 



UNITS. THE QUOTA PHASE 



133 



proportionate share of Negro troops 
throughout the war. 

Miscellaneous Units and Minor 
Problems 

A number of miscellaneous units were 
provided for Negro troops in 1940-42. 
Chief among these were bands, replace- 
ment companies, postal units, service 
command units (SCU's) at posts and at 
civilian educational institutions, and a 
special service company. Various pro- 
visional units, training units, school 
detachments, and overhead supply 
detachments were also utilized for the 
placement of Negro troops. Many of 
these units, such as bands and replace- 
ment companies, were needed to service 
Negro trainees. 

Occasionally, specific requests for the 
activation of Negro units were made by 
commanders who needed additional 
troops for tasks connected with the op- 
eration of their posts. Such a request 
came from Fort Knox in 1942. An engi- 
neer separate battalion was needed there 
to construct roads, training facilities, 
and firing aids in an expanded range and 
training area. The Chief of Engineers, 
believing that all units should be 
trained for future theater of operations 
use, objected to the activation of units 
for full-time employment on local tasks. 
This unit was therefore activated with 
the stipulation that it be trained in its 
usual duties by rotating its companies 
between training and necessary work 
and that it "not be used solely for labor 
while at Fort Knox." 75 



"Ltr, Hq Armd Force to TAG, 23 Feb 42, and 
Incls, AG 320.3 (2-23-42) (11-15-40) (1) sec. 11; 
Ltr, TAG 10 CG's, 12 Mar 42, AG g2o.2 (2-23-42) 
MR-M-C, 



The commander at Fort Belvoir, Vir- 
ginia, similarly asked for authority to 
advance the activation date for a medi- 
cal sanitary company, ostensibly because 
a First Army medical inspector had in- 
dicated that it was desirable to start 
training this type of unit as soon as pos- 
sible. When First Army asked for 
further reasons for advancing the acti- 
vation date for the unit, it developed 
that the post commander expected that 
the organization could be used to good 
advantage in mosquito control and gen- 
eral camp sanitation without interfering 
with its training. 76 

Truck regiments, provisional and 
permanent, for use at service schools, 
and school detachments to replace civil- 
ians, such as janitors and table waiters 
for instructors' and student officers' liv- 
ing quarters and messes, accounted for 
a number of units provided for Negro 
troops. The Field Artillery School at 
Fort Sill, Oklahoma, explained its need 
for additional Negro enlisted men in its 
school detachment: 

Until recently, civilian colored kitchen 
police and table waiters were available in 
sufficient numbers to maintain officer and 
instructor messes without difficulty. Lately, 
we have not been able to employ the 
required number, since a large percentage 
of this labor has been drafted. Other eligible 
men who would be desirable in the messes 
are now employed elsewhere at more 
attractive wages and better working hours. 
The problem of securing adequate kitchen 
police and table waiters is becoming more 
acute. 77 

The Parachute School at Fort Ben- 
ning wanted a Negro service company to 

"Ltr, Hq Ft. Belvoir to CG Third Corps Area, 
25 Feb 42, AG 320.2 (11-15-40) (1) sec. 11. 

"Ltr, FA School to CG R&SC, 2 Oct 42, AGF 
352/402 (FA School) . 



134 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Table 2 — Racial Distribution by Types of Service (Enlisted Only) 

31 December 1942 









Percentage of 














All Negroe 


5 


Percentage of All 




Type of Service 


White 


Negro 


in Each 




Men in 


Army 


























Type of 
















Service 




Whites 


Negroes 






4,532, 117 


467,883 


10 


3 


100.0 


100 







1,815,094 


92,772 


4 


8 


40.0 


19 


7 


Service units 


616,851 


161,707 


20 


7 


13.6 


34 


5 


AAF and ASWAAF 


1,190,363 


109,637 


8 


4 


26.4 


23 


5 


Overhead a 


363,820 


65,880 


15 


3 


8.0 


14 


1 


RTC's 


238,500 


27,500 


10 


3 


5.3 


5 


9 


OCS 


72,200 


800 


1 


1 


1.5 





2 




235,289 


9,587 


3 


9 


5.2 


2 


1 



° Includes replacement depots and hospitals. 

Source: Extended from Tab B, Memo, G-3 for CG's AGF and SOS, 26 Jan. 43, WDGCT 320.2 Gen (1-26-43). 



relieve its own students of such duties 
as kitchen police, guarding installations, 
and policing training areas, hangars, 
and administrative buildings. 78 Other 
units were formed for demonstration 
purposes at certain schools. Occasion- 
ally, needed units were activated over- 
seas from experienced units already in 
the theater, fillers being provided from 
the mainland. 79 

The provision of certain types of units 
for Negroes sometimes ran counter to lo- 
cal civilian customs and attitudes toward 
the types of tasks for which Negroes 
should be trained and employed. The 



• a Ltr, Prcht School to CG AGF, 27 Jul 42, AGF 
322.999/2 (Cld Trps) (7-27-42). 

19 Examples are aviation engineer battalions, re- 
quested by the South Pacific Base Command in 
1942, to be activated in the theater with cadres 
from the 810th and 811th Engineer Battalions 
(Avn) , which "will furnish the new units with a 
higher level of experience than can be obtained 
from any existing unit in the United States." DF, 
Hq AAF to Hq AGF, 4 Aug 42, AGF 320.2/347. 



Alabama State Firemen's Association ob- 
jected to the employment of Negro sol- 
diers in the fire department at Fort 
McClellan. The association wanted 
these traditionally "white" jobs kept 
for white men. 80 California longshore- 
men's unions objected to the formation 
of Negro port battalions and stated: 
"This move can only be interpreted by 
us as being directed against union la- 
bor." 81 Many areas objected to the use 
of Negro guard and air base security 
battalions, on the ground that they vio- 
lated local mores. The War Depart- 



80 Ltrs, Senator J. H. Bankhead and others, var- 
ious dates, April-June 1941, AG 291.21 (5-3-41) 

^Telg, International Longshoremen's and Ware- 
housemen's Union to President Roosevelt, 9 Apr 
41, AG 080 Los Angeles, Calif. (4-10-41) (1) and 
Ltrs in AG 080 International Longshoremen's and 
Warehousemen's Union (8-26-41) and AG 080 San 
Francisco, Calif. (8-27-41) (1). These include 
letters from United Hotel Employees, CIO, sup- 
porting the IL&WU. 



UNITS: THE QUOTA PHASE 



135 



merit's assurance that these units were 
being formed for military needs only 
and that their primary use, after the com- 
pletion of training, would be outside of 
the United States, brought an end to 
this type of protest. 

By the end of 1942, despite difficulties 
in carrying out the plan, the War De- 
partment had made tremendous progress 
toward achieving the goal of proportion- 
ate distribution. At that time every 
arm and service had Negro units with the 
exception of the Finance Department, 
and even Finance had Negroes on indi- 
vidual assignment with other units. 
But the basic distribution problem had 
not been solved, for the proportions of 
Negroes assigned to the arms as com- 
pared with those assigned to the services 
did not match the ratios of white troops 



so assigned. (Table 2) 

Proportionate distribution, which on 
paper and at first glance appeared to be 



an eminently fair procedure for the pro- 
vision of Negro units, both from the 
points of view of the branches and of 
Negroes, had revealed serious disadvan- 
tages by the end of 1942. Block as- 
signment of Negroes according to the 
numbers which the Army had to take in 
monthly induction quotas; allowing 
some of the branches to immobilize large 
numbers of men who required housing, 
supplies, and officers although their ulti- 
mate usefulness was doubtful; distribu- 
ting men on the basis of proportionate 
quotas rather than according to the needs 
of the service and the abilities of the men 
—the wisdom of continuing these poli- 
cies among others came into question. 
The War Department finally came to 
realize that the continued provision of 
units on the basis of numerical propor- 
tions involved more and more minor 
problems which showed every sign of 
growing into major ones. 



CHAPTER VI 



Proposals and Counterproposals 



During 1941 and 1942 many papers 
and studies directed toward a solution 
of the question of the proper and equi- 
table employment of Negro troops 
were prepared in War Department agen- 
cies. They arrived, with few excep- 
tions, at no new conclusions, except to 
recommend again that the necessary ad- 
ditional units to absorb Negroes be 
provided and that each arm and service 
continue to accept its proportionate 
share. 

The few exceptions in this continuing 
round of studies appeared at widely 
separated intervals and under quite dif- 
ferent circumstances. In September 
1941 the Civilian Aide to the Secretary 
of War, William H. Hastie, after ten 
months of "observation, discussion, and 
action in the War Department and in 
the field," produced an "overall descrip- 
tion of what is happening to the Negro 
in the Army" and suggested corrective 
measures. In March 1942 the War 
Plans Division produced a study calling 
for a complete reassessment of the basis 
for the use of Negro manpower. Out 
of G-g in October of the same year came 
a third study suggesting changes in the 
entire approach to the problem. 

Though only a few of the suggestions 
made in the studies were acted upon, 
these three studies indicate the range of 
corrective suggestions made before the 
pattern of Army racial organization in 



wartime had set too firmly for significant 
changes to be made. They, and the re- 
actions to them, are indexes to the ex- 
tent of recognition of the problems 
involved and to the resistance that ideas 
and new proposals can meet. 

The Hastie Survey 

Judge Hastie's survey and recommen- 
dations, written while the Army was still 
undergoing its peacetime expansion and 
training, considered nearly every large 
question involved in the employment of 
Negro troops, but it was his recommen- 
dation on the organization of units that 
created most concern within the staff 
divisions of the War Department. 1 

The basic contentions of Judge 
Hastie's survey were that the Army could 
utilize many more Negroes in many more 
varieties of service than it was currently 
doing and that Negro troops could be or- 
ganized more effectively for military serv- 
ice. In an introductory section, headed 
"The Fundamental Error of Philosophy 
and Approach," Hastie opened his re- 
port: 



1 Survey and Recommendations Concerning the 
Integration of the Negro Soldier into the Army, 
Submitted to the Secretary of War by the Civilian 
Aide to the Secretary of War, in Memo, Civ Aide 
to SW for SVV through USW, 22 Sep 41, G-1/15640- 
120. (Referred to hereafter as Hastie Survey.) 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



137 



The traditional mores of the South have 
been widely accepted and adopted by the 
Army as the basis of policy and practice 
affecting the Negro soldier. ... In tactical 
organization, in physical location, in human 
contacts, the Negro soldier is separated from 
the white soldier as completely as possible. 
, . . The isolation of Negro combat troops, 
the failure to make many of them parts of 
large combat teams, the refusal to mingle 
Negro officers— most of whom have had little 
opportunity to command and train soldiers 
—in units with experienced officers of the 
Regular Army, all are retarding the training 
of Negro soldiers. 

Hastie's major premise, thus stated, pre- 
disposed certain agencies to react un- 
favorably to his recommendations out of 
fear that the results would involve the 
Army in social as well as military prob- 
lems. 

Hastie's survey of the current status of 
the Negro soldier in the Army indicated 
a marked contrast between practice and 
announced policies. On 30 June 1941, 
the Army had 74,309 Negro enlisted 
men out of a total strength of 1,448,500. 
They represented only 5 percent of the 
whole. Plans current at that time set 
a goal of only 6 percent, for though 
about 10 percent of Selective Service in- 
ductees were Negroes, only 3 percent of 
three-year Regular enlistees and less 
than 2 percent of National Guard en- 
listed men were Negroes. Moreover, 
Hastie added, "The newly enlisted Ne- 
gro soldiers have been disproportionately 
concentrated in the Corps of Engineers, 
the Quartermaster Corps, and Overhead 
installations." Hastie felt that the 
imbalance had come about because 
these were the branches which could use 
Negroes "most easily in detached units, 
rather than as an integral part of larger 
combat teams." The "most glaring 



disproportion," he continued, was in the 
overhead installations, which G-3 was 
considering increasing to 20 percent of 
all Negroes. The intention was to con- 
fine Negroes to small service detachments 
"performing nonmilitary duties of un- 
skilled and menial character" that 
should be performed by civilian employ- 
ees not available for military service. 
"Where there are both colored and 
white service detachments in the Over- 
head of a particular station, the most 
undesirable duties are assigned to the 
colored detachment," he continued. 

The suggestion that the high propor- 
tion of Negroes assigned to labor func- 
tions was justified by the proportionately 
large numbers of Negro selectees in Class 
V, the lowest class of the Army General 
Classification Test (AGCT) , "must be 
discounted," Hastie argued, for illiter- 
ates were no longer to be accepted, se- 
lective service volunteers had higher 
basic abilities, and college students de- 
ferred for the first year of mobilization 
were rapidly being called to duty. 
"Finally," Hastie reported, "the evidence 
of field commanders indicates that a 
high percentage of the men with little 
education or acquired skill at the time 
of their induction, can be used effec- 
tively in combat units. Many such men 
have basic intelligence and are eager to 
learn for the very reason that opportu- 
nity has been denied them in civilian 
life. And even for men of small in- 
telligence there are many important 
jobs in Combat organizations." As an 
illustration, he cited the 77th Coast Ar- 
tillery, "composed in large measure of 
Negro Selective Service trainees of low 
classification," whose training record 
showed that it had "progressed faster 



138 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



than a white artillery regiment which is 
a component of the same brigade." 2 

The growing Selective Service back- 
logs, failure to use more Negroes in 
newer types of organizations, poor 
classification and assignment methods, 
the location of three-fourths of Negro 
trainees in the South where they had to 
accommodate themselves "to humili- 
ation and insult imposed by those who 
insist upon traditional Southern prac- 
tices designed to keep the Negro humble 
and subordinate, when the Army should, 
on the other hand, insist that every man 
in uniform be treated as a man and a 
soldier," and lack of opportunities for 
the development of capable Negro offi- 
cers were among the other major matters 
treated by Hastie in his survey. 

The chief difficulties which the Army 
was experiencing and which, he pre- 
dicted, would increase, Hastie attributed 
to the pattern of rigid separation by 
units within the Army: 

Many of the underlying problems of 
morale and administration discussed in this 
report are inherent in the fundamental 
scheme of separate units for colored soldiers. 
Difficulties begin in Selective Service calls 
where the requirement of separate units 
has led to separate calls for white and 
colored soldiers in violation of the spirit of 
the Selective Service lottery. It will be 
remembered that in at least one state local 
officials refused for a period to honor such 
racial calls. The danger of such rebellion is 
again imminent. Many of the problems of 
placing Negro soldiers according to train- 
ing and ability result from the necessity for 
finding a separate Negro unit and a vacancy 
in such a unit before the soldier can be 
assigned to duty. . . . 

All of this will not be changed over 
night. The disturbing thing, however, is 
that there is no apparent disposition to 



make a beginning or a trial of any different 
plan. The beginning of the training of 
Negro pilots for the Army Air Corps offered 
such an opportunity for a fresh start along 
sound lines. For example, a substantial 
portion of the Armored Force is being 
trained at Pine Camp, New York, in an 
area where racial tensions are not serious. 
Integration of highly competent Negroes, 
selectees and volunteers for g-year enlist- 
ments, into such an organization would be 
an important first step in the desirable 
direction. It is strongly recommended that 
some such beginning be made in the Air 
Corps, in the Armored Force, or in any 
organization which in its nature requires 
carefully selected men of superior intelli- 
gence and special competence. 

I believe the Military authorities do 
not comprehend the amount of resentment 
among soldiers and civilians, white as well 
as black, over the rigid pattern of racial 
separation imposed by the Army. Today, 
soldiers and civilians are more critical than 
they were 25 years ago in their examination 
of our professed ideals. Insistence upon an 
inflexible policy of separating white and 
black soldiers is probably the most dramatic 
evidence of hypocrisy in our profession that 
we are girding ourselves for the preservation 
of democracy. 3 

In his specific recommendations for 
the organization of Negro troops, Judge 
Hastie proposed four points "in order 
that the progressive integration of Negro 
soldiers into the Army shall proceed in 
such manner as to achieve the greatest 
possible Military advantage." These 
recommendations were: 

1. New organizations must be pro- 
vided as speedily as possible to accom- 
modate the anticipated excess of Negro 
selectees. 

2. Negro combat regiments should be 
made components of higher units; iso- 
lated single companies and detachments 
should be eliminated. 



Hastie Survey, p. 5. 



*Ibid., pp. 18-19. 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



139 



3. Isolated small units which are the 
only Negro troops at their stations should 
be transferred to other stations (in order 
to obviate the need of providing expen- 
sive separate recreational facilities for 
them) . 

4. At some place in the armed services 
a beginning should be made in the em- 
ployment of soldiers without racial sep- 
aration. 

Judge Hastie's recommendations were 
submitted to Under Secretary Patterson. 
Judge Patterson, in sending the paper 
to General Marshall, asked: "Will you 
please give this your careful considera- 
tion and let me have your views on it? 
It will probably be best to have an oral 
discussion of these issues." * Full re- 
plies to the memorandum, with changes, 
alterations, and comments, were pre- 
pared over a period of weeks by the as- 
sistant chiefs of staff and by interested 
agencies to whom the report was sent. 
In mid-November 1941, Judge Patterson 
reminded General Marshall that he had 
not yet heard from him and that he still 
wanted to discuss "at an early date 
Judge Hastie's memorandum of sugges- 
tions on Negro troops in the Army, 
which I sent to you with my memoran- 
dum of October 6th." 5 General Bryden, 
Deputy Chief of Staff, discussed the 
matter with Under Secretary Patterson 
on 5 December 1941, two and one-half 
months after the recommendations had 
been made and two days before Pearl 
Harbor, an event which effectively al- 
tered the course of discussion of the 
Hastie recommendations. 

No one quarreled seriously with the 

1 Memo, USW for CofS, 6 Oct 41, G-1/15640- 
120. 

5 Memo, USW for Gen Marshall, 19 Nov 41, 
OCS/20602-2Z6. 



first three recommendations of Judge 
Hastie. New Negro units, as described 
above, were activated as rapidly as pos- 
sible. The possible organization of all- 
Negro divisions, although Hastie had 
not urged it, was expected to answer the 
question of making smaller combat units 
parts of larger units. The organization 
of the 2d Cavalry Division, although 
Hastie was not so told, was considered 
proof that "the Department is not op- 
posed in principle to the inclusion of 
negro regiments in higher units." The 
GHQ tank battalion (the 78th, later 
758th) and the 99th Pursuit Squadron 
were cited as evidence of willingness to 
activate units in "new type" organiza- 
tions. More would be activated as 
qualified men became available, but 
comparative AGCT scores seemed to in- 
dicate that such an event was unlikely. 6 
Judge Hastie's proposal for a begin- 
ning in desegregation and his belief that 
with carefully selected men of high quali- 
fications such a beginning might safely 
be made on a small scale, overshadowed 
his other recommendations in the eyes 
of most commenting agencies. Hastie 
himself had assumed that such a begin- 
ning should be made in peacetime since 
in his view, with the country at war, any 
alteration of existing relationships might 
be considered as a dangerous experi- 
ment for a time of national emergency. 
He had also assumed that from both the 



9 Measures Which Have Been Taken or Which 
Are Being Taken in Connection With Some of the 
Recommendations Made by Judge W. H. Hastie in 
Memorandum Dated September 22, 1941, prepared 
by G-i in collaboration with G-3 as Incl to Memo 
prepared for CofS for submission to SW, 1 Dec 41, 
OCS/20602-2 19, Incl not used and ret urned to G-i; 
D/S, 2 Dec 41, G-1/15640-120. See I Chapter IXJ 
below, for a discussion of AGCT scores and their 
significance. 



140 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



point of view of economy in the use of 
manpower and in military efficiency such 
a beginning would be desirable. Most 
of all, he felt that such a step, taken 
concurrently with his other recommen- 
dations, would have tremendous sym- 
bolic value: 

I sincerely believe that much of the 
difficulty being experienced in arousing the 
nation today is traceable to the fact that we 
have lost that passion for national ideals 
which a people must have if it is to work 
and sacrifice for its own survival. We have 
lost that motivative drive because we have 
let our own behavior become inconsistent 
with our wordy professions. Whatever we 
may think of the ideals of Germany or 
Russia, fascism on the one hand and 
communism on the other had to become a 
national obsession, a driving force revealed 
in domestic behavior, before these nations 
could be keyed to a great war effort for the 
preservation and extension of their ideolo- 
gies. 

Until the men in our Army and civilians 
at home believe in and work for democracy 
with similar fervor and determination, we 
will not be an effective nation in the face of 
a foreign foe. So long as we condone and 
appease un-American attitudes and prac- 
tices within our own military and civilian 
life, we can never arouse ourselves to the 
exertion which the present emergency re- 
quires. 7 

The General Staff took the point of 
view that Hastie wished the Army to 
carry out a complete social revolution 
against the will of the nation. An un- 
used memorandum proposed by G-i 
with the concurrence of G-g clearly 
stated the case for the staff divisions: 

It is the opinion of these Divisions that, 
under no circumstances should the War 
Department concur in those recommenda- 
tions which are based largely upon racial 
and social issues. The immediate task of 



the Army is the efficient completion of our 
Defense Program. Nothing should be per- 
mitted to divert us from this task. Contrary 
to the bulk of the recommendations, every 
effort should be made by the War 
Department to maintain in the Army the 
social and racial conditions which exist in 
civil life in order that the normal customs 
of the white and colored personnel now in 
the army may not be suddenly disrupted. 
The Army can, under no circumstances, 
adopt a policy which is contrary to the 
dictates of a majority of the people. To do 
so would alienate the people from the 
Army and lower their morale at a time 
when their support of the Army and high 
morale are vital to our National needs. 8 

In the formal memorandum of the Chief 
of Staff to the Secretary of War on the 
subject, dated 1 December 1941, Gen- 
eral Marshall wrote: 

A solution of many of the issues presented 
by Judge Hastie in his memorandum to you 
on "The Integration of the Negro Soldier 
into the Army," dated September 22, would 
be tantamount to solving a social problem 
which has perplexed the American people 
throughout the history of this nation. The 
Army cannot accomplish such a solution, 
and should not be charged with the 
undertaking. The settlement of vexing ra- 
cial problems cannot be permitted to 
complicate the tremendous task of the War 
Department and thereby jeopardize dis- 
cipline and morale. 



The problems presented with reference 
to utilizing negro personnel in the Army 
should be faced squarely. In doing so, the 
following facts must be recognized; first, 
that the War Department cannot ignore 
the social relationships between negroes 
and whites which has been established by 
the American people through custom and 
habit; second, that either through lack of 
educational opportunities or other causes 
the level of intelligence and occupational 
skill of the negro population is considerably 



7 Hastie Survey, p. 24. 



8 Memo, G-i for CofS, 6 Nov 41, 0-1/15640-120. 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



141 



below that of the white; third, that the 
Army will attain its maximum strength 
only if its personnel is properly placed in 
accordance with the capabilities of individ- 
uals; and fourth, that experiments within 
the Army in the solution of social problems 
are fraught with danger to efficiency, 
discipline, and morale. 8 

To all practical intents and purposes, 
Hastie and the Army's high command 
had reached an impasse on this particu- 
lar question before the formal entry of 
the United States into war. 

The Editors' Conference and Its 
Aftermath 

Just at the time that the Chief of 
Staff's formal reply to the Hastie recom- 
mendations was sent to the Secretary, 
the Bureau of Public Relations and 
Judge Hastie were arranging a confer- 
ence of Negro editors and publishers. 10 
They had scheduled their meeting for 
8 December 1941, a date whose signifi- 
cance was to be known only after the 
Sunday, 7 December, attack on Pearl 
Harbor. This type of conference, 
planned to provide the Negro press 
with factual information concerning the 
functions of the various War Depart- 
ment agencies and to endeavor to create 
better relations between the Army and 
the Negro public, had been used suc- 
cessfully in World War I. 11 At round 
table discussions, the editors were to 
hear representatives of The Adjutant 
General's Department, the Bureau of 
Public Relations, the Morale Branch, 

'Memo, CofS for SW, 1 Dec 41, OCS 20602-219. 

10 Memo, Bureau of Public Relations for TAG, 
1 Dec 41, AG 291.21 (13-1-41) (1). 

u Emmett J. Scott, "The Participation of Ne- 
groes in World War I: An Introductory Statement," 
Journal of Negro Education, Yearbook No, XII 
(1943) , p. 293. 



The Inspector General's Department, 
the Provost Marshal General's Office, 
the Judge Advocate General's Office, and 
the Civilian Personnel Division. A tour 
of the Bureau of Public Relations, an 
exhibition of films, and a demonstration 
of modem warfare at Fort Belvoir, Vir- 
ginia, would follow. The conference 
was to open with remarks by General 
Marshall. 

For General Marshall's address, the 
G-3 Division prepared two reports. 
The first contained current statistics on 
the employment of Negro personnel. 
It listed the achievement of the Army 
in activating the 99th Pursuit Squadron 
and the 758th Tank Battalion, in plan- 
ning the activation of tank destroyer 
units, in distributing Negroes "in all our 
arms and services," in the use of Negro 
officers, and in general advances in 
training. The second, "furnished for 
background purposes, only," contained 
statements that might be useful in "re- 
futing charges that discrimination is 
being practiced against negroes." It 
contained statistics comparing white and 
Negro AGCT score distributions (at 
that time, 13.34 percent of the white and 
.64 percent of the Negro soldiers were 
in the highest class; 5.51 percent of the 
whites and 45.05 percent of the Negroes 
were in the lowest class); comparisons 
of AGCT scores of white and Negro 
high school graduates and then of col- 
lege graduates; racial comparisons of oc- 
currence rates of occupational special- 
ists (44.2 percent white to 5.3 Negro 
clerks per 1,000; 99.5 white to 118.8 
Negro truck drivers; .586 white airplane 
mechanics to .045 Negro; 8.9 white to 
31.5 Negro cooks; .346 white to .011 Ne- 
gro telegraph operators per 1,000) ; and 
selected comments of World War I com- 



142 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



manders on the combat efficiency of 
Negro troops as compiled by the Army 
War College. 12 

In his talk General Marshall pointed 
out the progress that had been made and 
that was in the offing. Here he made 
the first public announcement that a Ne- 
gro division was being considered. He 
made clear his recognition of the prob- 
lem faced by the War Department and 
said that the department was not satis- 
fied with the progress it had made. In 
an aside General Marshall added, "And I 
am not personally satisfied with it 
either." Coming as they did in the 
emotionally charged atmosphere of the 
morning after Pearl Harbor and just be- 
fore the Congress of the United States as- 
sembled to hear the President's request 
for a declaration that the nation was in 
a state of war with Japan, General Mar- 
shall's remarks, especially the added 
comment on his personal feeling in the 
matter, made a profound impression on 
the Negro editors. But, an hour later, 
Col. Eugene R. Householder, of The 
Adjutant General's Department, read 
from a prepared paper: 

The Army did not create the problem. 
The Army is made up of individual citizens 
of the United States who have pronounced 
views with respect to the Negro just as they 
have individual ideas with respect to other 
matters in their daily walk of life. Military 
orders, fiat, or dicta, will not change their 
viewpoints. The Army then cannot be 
made the means of engendering conflict 
among the mass of people because of a 
stand with respect to Negroes which is not 
compatible with the position attained by 
the Negro in civilian life. This principle 
must necessarily govern the Army not only 
with this subject of contention but with 

12 Memo, G-3 for CofS, 3 Dec 41; Memo, G-g 
for Col W. B. Smith, SGS, 4 Dec 41. Both in AG 
324.97 (12-3-41) (1). 



respect to other dogma be it religious, 
political, or economic. The Army is not a 
sociological laboratory; to be effective it 
must be organized and trained according 
to the principles which will insure success. 
Experiments, to meet the wishes and 
demands of the champions of every race 
and creed for the solution of their problems 
are a danger to efficiency, discipline and 
morale and would result in ultimate 
defeat. 13 

The editors, comparing this presen- 
tation with General Marshall's, were 
appalled. They attacked the position 
outlined. In their discussions they 
pointed out that whether it wished to 
or not, an army carried within itself 
certain social forces. They took the 
phrase "The Army is not a sociological 
laboratory" and used it as a cynical sum- 
mation of Army policy. They con- 
tended that current practices extended 
segregation and prejudices to sections 
of the country where such patterns had 
not formerly existed. They took Colo- 
nel Householder's statement to mean 
that the Army had no intention of 
modifying its racial practices. They 
took General Marshall's statement to 
mean that, on the contrary, change with- 
in the Army was not only possible but 
desirable. General Marshall's, as the 
more hopeful and more responsible 
attitude, was the one they chose to ac- 
cept, though they could not ignore the 
implication that it might not be shared 
by all of his subordinates. 

The announcement of the new divi- 
sion for Negroes was headlined by most 
of the Negro papers as the biggest news 
coming out of the meeting. But the 
assembled editors interpreted the con- 



13 Speech, The Adjutant General's Department, 
AG 291. zi (12-1-41) (1). 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



143 



ference's main significance to be that 
more serious consideration of the Negro's 
position in the Army by its responsible 
chiefs would bring "steady but slow im- 
provement," as an editor of the Pitts- 
burgh Courier expressed it. He 
explained: 

This does not mean that all desires of the 
Negro citizen are to he favorably acted 
upon immediately. It does not mean that 
segregation in the Army is going to vanish 
overnight [nor does it mean that the Army 
has been persuaded that] now is the time to 
begin planning to abolish segregation. . . . 
[General Marshall's statement] means, of 
course, that the directing head of the War 
Department and the United States Army 
knows about our problem, is personally 
interested in it and personally desires that 
restrictions against the advancement of the 
Negro soldier be lifted. 

I think General Marshall was honest 
when he made the statement. I think that 
his present attitude, in the light of the past, 
represents an improvement due to greater 
knowledge of our problem and greater 
understanding. I think that General Mar- 
shall's attitude, so far as we're concerned, is 
growing better and better. 14 

Or, as the Norfolk Journal and Guide 
put it: 

It was the general consensus of those 
attending the conference that a surprisingly 
new outlook was vouchsafed by key men in 
the War Department setup, that they seem 
more open-minded to a new deal in relation 
to the Colored American in the armed 
forces, and have actually initiated some 
fundamental changes without a lot of 
fanfare. 15 

Not all papers reacted so favorably. 
The Chicago Defender stated editorially 
that: 

"P. L. Prattis, "The Horizon: Conference of 
Negro Editors Was Challenge to War Department 
Officials," Pittsburgh Courier, December 18, 1941. 

16 Norfolk Journal and Guide, December 18, 1941. 



Mr. Hastie, though a very capable 
gentleman, has no appreciable authority 
and scarcely any influence with the big wigs 
of the War Department. He can make no 
commitments, and he cannot explain away 
the segregative and discriminatory practices 
to which the high officials of his own 
department are clinging. What then is the 
purpose of this conference? It is an obvious 
attempt to appease belligerent Negro edi- 
tors who have taken a critical view of the 
whole panorama of national defense. 18 

The conference may "properly be 
placed in a compartment and marked 
'File and Forget,' " the Newark, New 
Jersey, Herald-News commented, for 
". . . it convinced no one, not already 
convinced, that racial segregation or 
color proscriptions have any place in the 
official policy of a nation dedicated to 
the defense of democracy and demo- 
cratic institutions." 17 

During the discussions of the as- 
sembled editors, Claude A. Barnett, di- 
rector of the Associated Negro Press, 
suggested that if the process of integrat- 
ing Negroes into units as individuals was 
hampered by personal objections and 
prejudices of white and Negro soldiers, 
the Army might open one or more units 
on a volunteer basis to those Negroes 
and whites who would prefer service in 
a nonsegregated unit. A few weeks af- 
ter the conference, Walter White of the 
National Association for the Advance- 
ment of Colored People, "emboldened 
. . . by your statement [of] your per- 
sonal dissatisfaction with the progress 
made to date with respect to integration 
of Negroes into the United States Army," 
took this suggestion and offered the aid 
of his organization to General Marshall 
for the formation of a volunteer divi- 

18 Chicago Defender, December 18, 1941. 

1T Newark Herald-News, December 20, ig4i. 



144 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



sion "open to all irrespective of race, 
creed, color or national origin." Citing 
correspondence received by his organi- 
zation and others "from all parts of 
the United States including the South," 
White stated that authorization for such 
a unit would "serve as a tremendous lift 
to the morale of the Negro which at 
present is at a dangerously low ebb. 
We are convinced that it also would 
have tremendous psychological effect 
upon white Americans and it would give 
the lie to the attacks made by Nazi 
Germany and other Axis powers to the 
effect that the United States talks about 
democracy but practices racial discrim- 
ination and segregation." 18 

White's letter was referred in a rou- 
tine manner to The Adjutant General 
by an assistant secretary of the General 
Staff. In the meantime, White wrote a 
second letter to General Marshall, cor- 
recting an erroneous reference to a regi- 
ment in his first letter when he had 
intended to write "division" and sug- 
gesting that since he was to be in 
Washington in January perhaps a con- 
ference to discuss his proposal could be 
arranged. 19 The Adjutant General 
answered in what was essentially a form 
letter: 

The Chief of Staff has requested that I 
acknowledge receipt of your letter of 
January 2, 1942, relative to the organization 
of a volunteer division of the Army open to 
all without respect to race or color, and 
requesting a conference with regards to the 
matter. 

The War Department does not contem- 
plate the organization of a division such as 



18 Ltr, Walter White, Secy NAACP, to Gen 
Marshall, 22 Dec 41, AG 291.21 (12-22-41) (1). 

"Ltr, Walter White to Gen Marshall, 2 Jan 42, 
AG 291.21 (1-2-42) (12-22-41) (1), 



suggested, and consequently a conference 
on the subject is not deemed necessary. 20 

This reply caused Walter White and 
the Negro editors to believe that the 
program presented at the 8 December 
conference had been another case of the 
War Department's using a public ap- 
proach different from the private path 
it intended to pursue, a path which 
would not lead to any real change in 
the status of Negro participation in the 
war. The Assistant Secretary of War, 
John J. McCloy, informed of the un- 
favorable reaction, suggested in a note 
to Maj. Gen. Emory S. Adams, The 
Adjutant General: 

There have been some repercussions re- 
sulting from what has been considered to 
be the undue curtness of the reply of 
January 8 to Walter White, Secretary of 
the National Association for the Advance- 
ment of Colored People. I have not the 
slightest doubt of the unwisdom of having 
any such unit as was proposed in White's 
letter to Marshall, but I am inclined to 
think that in the future it may be advisable 
to handle these matters by an interview. Of 
course, it isn't necessary that General 
Marshall should take part in any such 
interview but some officer might well do so. 

1 am told that the very good effect which 
General Marshall's appearance before the 
negro editors made has been somewhat 
dissipated by this letter and some failure to 
act on several other much less objectionable 
requests put forward by Judge Hastie. 

1 am sending this down to you merely 
because your name was on the letter. I have 
no doubt that it was drafted elsewhere and 
merely sent out by you as a routine matter, 
but 1 thought you might be able to trace 
it. 21 

*> Ltr. TAG to Walter White, 8 Jan 42, AG 
291.21 (1-2-42) MB (12-22-41) (1). 

21 Memo, ASW for TAG, 13 Jan 42, AG 291.21 
(1-13-42) (12-22-41) (1). General Adams penciled 
on the memo, "I drafted the reply personally after 
ascertaining from A.C.S. G-g that no such division 
was contemplated by the W.D. E.S.A." 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



145 



General Adams sent a copy of the 
McCloy note to Lt. Col. James W. Boyer, 
Jr., of the Miscellaneous Division, Adju- 
tant General's Office. Colonel Boyer 
had been in frequent consultation with 
the Hastie office and with members of the 
Negro press. He had helped draft 
many letters to White. In a memoran- 
dum for General Adams, Boyer detailed 
a complex of reactions to the situation 
representative of the position of many 
of those administrative officers who had 
to deal daily with the matter of the 
employment of Negroes in the Army: 

2. I yield to no one in the War 
Department in the matter of tolerance for 
the Negro. I have dealt on a most pleasant 
basis with Judge Hastie, not only on the 
basis of the relationship of his position in 
the War Department, but on the basis that 
he himself is a fine and intelligent person. 
Incidentally, I know of no failure to act on 
requests put forward by Judge Hastie. All 
of his requests have had expedited service 
so far as I know. 

3. The War Department is confronted, 
however, with a condition that bids fair to 
be insidious, even cancerous. Judge Hastie 
makes no bones about it that "the time for 
minorities to make their gains is the time 
of national emergency." With utmost frank- 
ness, then, it is the purpose of Judge Hastie 
and his backers to advance the colored 
people as a race at the expense of the Army. 
Not satisfied with any gain, and there have 
been many, he intends to go from one 
disputed point to another. When the W r ar 
Department recedes from an announced po- 
sition he is prepared to submit some other 
equally debatable issue. While many of 
these issues are small in themselves, the 
cumulative effect is being felt throughout 
the War Department among those who deal 
with Negro problems. Incident after inci- 
dent could be recounted wherein he has 
demonstrated willful persistence in break- 
ing down the Department's long considered 
policies. 

4. Of course, Judge Hastie considers him- 



self a representative of the National 
Association for the Advancement of Colored 
People first, and a representative of the 
War Department second. I do not believe 
that he has helped solve any problem of 
significance but has created them. I believe 
that the Secretary of W r ar should know that 
this is true. 

5. With respect to Mr. White, the letters 
addressed to him may have been curt. His 
letters to the War Department have been 
increasingly insolent on subjects which are 
of no concern to the National Association 
for the Advancement of Colored People. 
Should Mr. White be justified in his action, 
so also could be the Jewish Welfare Board 
or an association of the Japanese-American, 
or any other group, social or otherwise, set 
up to be special pleaders for minority 
causes. It is inconceivable that any other 
minority would be treated with such 
tolerance. Should the National Commander 
of the American Legion address the 
Department as White has done, he would 
receive scant consideration. 

6. I can see no useful purpose in any 
officer dissipating his time to discuss with 
Mr. White or anyone else the creation of a 
volunteer division composed of whites and 
Negroes. There may be some super-tolerant 
people that would join a Negro outfit but 
their numbers would be few. Other whites 
that would join a Negro outfit would be of 
the same class of whites that would live in a 
Negro community. This Judge Hastie 
knows and admits and he does nothing to 
cut down useless and persistent correspond- 
ence on the subject. 22 

The ideas here expressed were not 
held by one officer alone. They were 
a fair reflection of the resentment to 
Hastie which had grown within the 
War Department. It had affected 
many of the objections to attempts to 
achieve changes in the employment of 
Negro troops. As early as the spring of 



22 Informal Memo, J.W.B. for Gen Adams, n.d., 
AG 291.21 (1-13-42) (12-22-41) (1) . Omitted mat- 
ter in Paragraph 1 is introductory only. 



146 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



1941, G-i observed that Judge Hastie, 
through his personal contacts with War 
Department officers and through his de- 
sire to "extend his activities to corps 
areas and troop units," 23 had succeeded 
in securing numerous concessions. "If 
this action is continued the whole pro- 
gram may get out of hand," the Person- 
nel Division feared. 24 

Gradually, during 1941, Hastie began 
to be left out of consultation on issues 
affecting Negroes which arose within the 
department. He was not told, for ex- 
ample, of the decision to establish a 
separate school for Negro quartermaster 
trainees at Hampton Institute. When 
he discovered that this school had been 
authorized, Hastie objected to it and, 
finding that he was too late, urged that 
it as well as all other schools be opened 
to both Negroes and whites. Nor was 
he consulted on the removal of the 54th 
Coast Artillery from Camp Wallace, 
near Galveston, upon the request of 
white and over the objections of Negro 
citizens. Galveston, he observed, was 
as good a town as any for Negro troops. 
"I wish again to emphasize the fact," he 
reminded Under Secretary Patterson, 
"that the principal usefulness of this 
office is destroyed if we are not consulted 
with reference to such matters." 25 

At times notations with the force of 
"Not to be shown to Judge Hastie" 
were attached to papers dealing with 
phases of Negro troop utilization. A 
draft letter prepared by several officers 
of The Adjutant General's Office and of 

23 In his letter of appointment, Secretary Stimson 
had authorized Hastie to visit the field. 

24 Memo, G-i for CofS, 18 Mar 41, G-1/15640-83. 
See also Walter White-Brig Gen Frederick Osborn 
Corresp, 1-6 Apr 42, SSB 291.31 (9-27-41) (1). 

35 Memo, Civ Aide for USW, 15 Jul 41, USW 
291.2 Judge Hastie's Office. 



the G-i Division in September 1941, 
for example, carried an appended note: 
"G-i in passing upon this proposed 
letter, urged that it not be coordinated 
with the Office of the Civilian Aide, 
Judge Hastie. . . ." 26 The draft was 
in reply to an Office of Civilian Defense 
request for information on the question 
of Negro civilian morale as reflected by 
conditions in the Army, a matter which 
President Roosevelt wished to discuss 
with Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia, 
then Director of Civilian Defense. 
This request was forwarded to the Civil- 
ian Aide by the Morale Branch. In the 
absence of Judge Hastie, Truman K. 
Gibson, Hastie's assistant, referred it to 
The Adjutant General's Office, which 
urged that "no such requests should be 
complied with unless they are channeled 
to this office through the Office of the 
Administrative Assistant." The reply, as 
drafted, developed a rationale of Negro- 
Army relations based on the idea that 
subversive activities against the Army 
were central to the current pressure tac- 
tics of Negroes: 

It is well known, of course, that the 
Negro population has been a focal point of 
subversive agitation. It has appeared that 
this agitation has crystallized in several 
instances against War Department policies 
respecting the non-mingling of Negroes 
with other troops. Additionally, there has 
been agitation against sending Negro sol- 
diers to southern camps where undoubtedly 
there exists a traditional dislike of "black 
Yankees". . . . 

As you are of course aware, the handling 
of the Negro in the Army will be, at all 
times, a problem. There are now in service 
nearly 80,000 Negroes, many of whom 
cannot be profitably employed in the 



20 Remarks and Memo, ExO G-i for Col Boyer, 
3 Sep 41, AG 291.21 (9-4-41) (1). 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



147 



service excepting as labor troops. This is 
due to the low average mentality. However, 
in response to urgings upon the War 
Department, they are now represented in 
every major branch of the Army, including 
the Air Corps. No effort has been spared 
to provide equal opportunity and accom- 
modations, for the Negro soldier. 

It is doubtful that there will be any 
simple solution. Many leaders of the Negro 
race agitate for more and more 
consideration, far beyond the capabilities 
of their people. Cleverly, they seek to create 
problems rather than obviate them, "Why 
should Negroes be segregated from whites?" 
"Why should Negro regiments have any 
white officers?" "Why should the War 
Department permit enforcement of state 
laws relative to segregation in southern 
states?" As one question is disposed of, 
another takes its place inspired by 
inflammatory reasoning. 

While the events which have so far 
transpired have been scattered, there ap- 
pears to be underlying all such events a 
pattern of centralized stimulation. The fact 
that to date there has been comparative 
lack of conflict among the large bulk of 
80,000 Negroes in service is because, 
perhaps, that there has been good common 
sense used by the Negroes themselves. 
Commanders of cantonments in the field, it 
is felt, are zealously endeavoring to meet 
the situation. . . . 

It should be understood that the Negro 
is not the only problem confronting the 
War Department, because there are a 
variety of other special pleaders who set up 
specious claims that they too are being 
discriminated against as a class. Among the 
latter are those in specialized professions 
such as chiropracters, osteopaths, naturo- 
paths, pharmacists, male nurses, barbers, 
etc., who have organized their efforts much 
after the pattern of the Negro agitators to 
claim special recognition. . . . 

Those Negro leaders who seek to prove 
discrimination because of color employ spe- 
cial pleading for a race which as a class, has 
not as yet the attained mental equipment 
to be employed in military functions other 
than those where brawn is prerequisite. 



The opportunities for this group have 
reached a point of saturation. 27 

The points of view of Judge Hastie 
and his supporters were clearly at vari- 
ance with those of many of the officers in 
the War Department who had to deal 
with policy decisions on the employment 
of Negro troops. What to Hastie ap- 
peared to be a minimal approach to 
symbolic democracy, became to many 
of those with whom he was attempting 
to work a plot to change the existing 
American social structure and a threat 
to the Army's system of military disci- 
pline. What to officers in the War De- 
partment appeared to be a logical and 
rational solution to a difficult problem, 
based on civilian precedent backed by 
years of experience, appeared to Hastie 
to be a perversion and extension by the 
Military Establishment of the least de- 
sirable features of Negro-white civilian 
relations and a willful disregard of the 
more advanced and workable solutions 
to racial problems being practiced in 
civilian life. 

In the resulting stalemate, the basic 
organization of Negro troops remained 
unchanged and untouched, while the 
questions raised concerning the ef- 
ficiency of this organization continued 
to vex the War Department. 

Action on the Hastie Proposals 

Discussion of the proposals made in 
the Hastie Survey did not cease with 

27 Draft Ltr, TAG to Brig Gen L. D. Gasser, WD 
Representative OCD, 2 Sep 41, in Memo, G-i for 
Col Boyer (AGO), 3 Sep 41, AG 291.21 (9-4-41) 
(1). The letter actually sent, dated 4 September 
1941, deleted most of the material quoted here. 
The draft, according to penciled notes attached, 
had been worked on and approved by several 
officers. 



148 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



the December letter from the Chief of 
Staff or with the December conference 
between the Under Secretary of War and 
the Deputy Chief of Staff. In subse- 
quent conferences, Judge Patterson and 
Judge Hastie continued to explore the 
possibilities of action on those phases of 
the proposals which had not been acted 
upon and upon which agreement might 
be reached. Among the proposals 
for further employment of Negroes 
adopted by January 1942 were the use 
of Negro military police in areas where 
there were Negro troops and the consti- 
tution of a Negro division, considered a 
feasible partial solution to the problem 
of scattered small units. Once the 
activation of the initial division was con- 
firmed, Hastie favored the formation of 
additional large units. It was under- 
stood that small units would be shifted 
to posts where more Negro troops and, 
therefore, better physical and recre- 
ational facilities were located. The 
main questions affecting organization 
which remained unanswered were those 
of the continued increase of Negro 
strength and the employment of Negroes 
in the Air Forces. "Although the Air 
Force is advertising for men, Negroes are 
not taken except for special Negro units 
which were filled long ago," Judge Pat- 
terson wrote to General Bryden. "Per- 
haps an additional Negro Air squadron 
should be formed," he suggested. 28 

On 13 January, Judge Hastie, Judge 
Patterson, and Secretary Stimson con- 
ferred once more. Again the questions 
of consolidating small detached Negro 
units, the constitution of additional 
Air units, and the provision of an in- 



28 Memo, USW for DCofS, 10 Jan 42, ASW 291.2 
Race, Negro (Misc) . 



creased number of units generally to 
absorb Selective Service's excess Ne- 
groes were discussed. Stimson men- 
tioned the suitability of Negro soldiers 
for operations in the tropics. Patterson 
and Hastie urged the announcement of 
the formation of an additional division 
or of several regiments. Hastie linked 
the scarcity of Negro officer candidates, a 
matter then under discussion by the 
Negro press and public, to the existence 
of small detached units which did not 
regularly receive quotas for officer candi- 
date training. Without getting support 
from the Secretaries, he again urged the 
beginning of integration of Negroes and 
whites, even in the smallest way. 29 

Action on the matters discussed and 
agreed upon was slow. Hastie, in the 
meantime, produced a critical examina- 
tion of the 1942 Troop Basis. "I have 
now been permitted," he informed the 
Under Secretary on 5 February, "to ex- 
amine so much of the troop unit basis 
for 1942 as embraces Combat Divisions, 
Army Troops, Corps Troops, GHQ Re- 
serve Troops, Harbor Defense Units, 
Military Police Units, and Tank De- 
stroyer Battalions. . . . The Secretary 
of War, has announced that about 175,- 
000 more [Negroes] will be added to the 
Army in 1942. ... A study by G-3 
contemplates the addition of some 240,- 
000 Negro soldiers, as contrasted with 
the number of 175,000 mentioned by 
The Secretary. But there is no organ- 
izational structure yet approved for the 
175,000 new men." 30 

To Hastie, the "one element of ad- 



s' Memo, USW for SW, 16 Jan 42, ASW 891.2 
Race, Negro (Misc) . 

30 Memo, Civ Aide to SW for USW, 5 Feb 42, 
attached to Memo, DCofS for USW, 16 Feb 42. 
Both in ASW 291.2 Race, Negro (Army Misc). 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



149 



vancement" in the 1942 Troop Basis 
was the inclusion of Negroes in divi- 
sions. He considered this "the most 
effective method for modifying the 
present pattern of placing Negroes in 
scattered, small units." He criticized 
the continued increase of Negroes in the 
Quartermaster Corps "in which disper- 
sion of small units is most extreme"; 
the provision of 1 1 percent Negroes in 
the Medical Corps, "practically all of 
them in Sanitary Companies" with "no 
white Sanitary Companies whatever"; 
and the concentration of Negroes in en- 
gineer general service regiments and in 
"scattered" ammunition companies. 
"Certainly," he wrote, "the Negro soldier 
should do his full share of manual, un- 
skilled labor, but the cited examples 
represent an unreasonable preponder- 
ance, in some places the exclusive as- 
signment of Negroes to functions of this 
type." Finally, pointing out that the 
Selective Service backlog of uninducted 
Negroes who remained at the top of the 
selectee lists "invites court action by 
any white selectee chosen for induction 
ahead of eligible Negroes whose name 
precedes his," he urged that provision be 
made for a larger absorption of Negroes 
by the Army, by the Navy, or by both 
services.* 1 

A week later Deputy Chief of Staff 
Bryden informed Under Secretary Pat- 
terson that it was deemed impracticable 
to assemble small Negro units because 
of the nature of the functions they per- 
formed. "To assemble them would re- 
sult in an excess of these elements at the 
places where assembled and would 
require replacement by similar white 
service elements," he indicated. A 



81 Ibid. 



letter to the field on the equal treatment 
of soldiers, regardless of race; instruc- 
tions insuring an opportunity for every 
soldier to apply for officer candidate 
training; assurance that Negroes equal- 
ing the population percentages would be 
taken into the Army; and assurance that 
new combat units would be activated 
were included in General Bryden's re- 
port of plans. 32 

To Hastie's criticisms of the current 
troop basis, General Bryden later replied 
that the distribution of Negroes to 
ground units, to air and air service units, 
and to miscellaneous categories com- 
pared favorably with the white distribu- 
tion. Of 338,000 Negroes provided for, 
177,000 (53 percent) were allocated to 
ground units; 78,000 (23 percent) to the 
Army Air Forces and services; 82,000 
(24 percent) to miscellaneous cate- 
gories. These percentages compared fa- 
vorably with white percentages of 48, 
27, and 24. Bryden pointed out that the 
War Department had endeavored to 
employ Negro manpower in types of 
units proved suitable for Negroes and 
also in other types where they might be 
expected to develop to desired stand- 
ards. He added: 

In spite of the fact that American battle 
experience has indicated a battle efficiency 
of Negro divisions below that required— as 
well as below that demonstrated by white 
divisions— the current troop basis includes 
two complete Negro divisions. ... It has, 
however, been found necessary to assign 
Negroes in considerable numbers to small 
units in which specialist and intelligence 
requirements are not exacting. Those small 
units, generally carried in GHQ Reserve, 
are necessary for the proper support of 
divisions in combat. The term "reserve" 



32 Memo, DCofS for USW, 13 Feb 42, ASW 291.8 
Race, Negro (Misc) . 



150 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



does not mean that they will not be 
employed in active combat. . . , 33 

The difficulties of finding locations 
for large Negro units and the possibility 
that they might not be useful overseas, 
the failure of Selective Service defer- 
ments to equalize the eligible white and 
Negro selectees on the basis of popula- 
tion percentages, the failure of the Navy 
to take its share of Negroes, and the de- 
sirability of having the troop basis re- 
flect actual needs were all cited as fac- 
tors contributing to the department's 
problem. General Bryden stressed, 
moreover, that "with the advent of ac- 
tual War the primary responsibility of 
the War Department is to conclude the 
building of an Army which can operate 
when and where needed at maximum 
effectiveness. It is obvious, in times as 
critical as these, the needs of the Nation 
must transcend the favored considera- 
tion of any particular group." 34 

The explanations and detailed justi- 
fications for War Department policies in 
the employment of Negro troops, de- 
livered almost ad seriatium and in al- 
most identical terms, were not convinc- 
ing evidence to Hastie that the Army 
had done all that it could. He renewed 
his recommendations from time to time, 
citing new evidence in support of his 
resubmissions. Many of Hastie's stric- 
tures on current organizational policies 
as they affected the over-all efficiency of 
Negro troops came to have obvious foun- 
dation in fact as the year wore on. As 
more and more Negroes entered the 
Army and as more and more of them 
appeared destined for units of limited 
apparent value, discussions of the "Ne- 

83 Memo, DCofS for USW, 16 Feb 42, ASW 291.2 
Race, Negro (Misc) . 
"Ibid. 



gro problem" became more frequent. 
No one had as yet made an official state- 
ment on the matter, but the attempt to 
distribute Negroes proportionately was 
proving considerably more difficult than 
had been apparent in paper plans; more- 
over the simple physical problem of the 
intake of proportionate numbers of 
Negroes without regard to their pro- 
portionate distribution was proving to 
be an onerous administrative burden. 

A War Plans Approach 

Seeking a method of employing not 
only a proportionate but any number 
of Negroes that might become available, 
the War Plans Division in March 1942 
prepared a study which showed that 
using Negroes exclusively in certain types 
of noncombatant units could have in- 
creased by 26.2 percent the number of 
Negroes employed in ground units in 
the 194s Troop Basis. Although this 
study was not sent to the Chief of Staff 
as originally intended, it presented 
several arguments for consideration in 
future planning which were pertinent 
to what the War Plans Division felt to 
be "the most effective use of colored 
manpower above and beyond popula- 
tion percentage." These suggestions 
were formulated with two ends in view. 

1. Release of white manpower from 
noncombatant units to make available 
the greatest possible percentage of reli- 
able troops for combat units. 

2. To permit the deferment of the 
maximum number of skilled defense 
workers consistent with the balanced re- 
quirements of an army of any given 
figure. 35 

36 Memo, WPD for CofS (not used) , Mar 4a, 
OPD 291.21/3, 3-25-42. 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



151 



These considerations were to figure 
heavily in later discussions and in action 
taken. But the chief innovation sug- 
gested was the proposal to abandon the 
1 o percent quota in favor of a maximum 
use of Negroes in the Army by concen- 
trating the employment of Negro troops 
in the services. 

The study, recognizing "the necessity 
for a certain number of colored tactical 
units (due to unavoidable reasons) ," 
proceeded on the assumption that hold- 
ing Negro combat units to the percent- 
ages already set up for 1942 would allow 
additional Negroes to be usefully em- 
ployed in service units to an extent 
greater than their percentage in the 
population. The best men, of whom 
larger numbers would be expected in 
this increased number of Negroes 
drafted, could then be placed in the com- 
bat units, releasing submarginal person- 
nel for the service units. In its emphasis 
upon highly selected men for combat 
units the plan had overtones of older 
"elite unit" suggestions and of later 
"selective screening" proposals. 

The plan envisioned the use of Ne- 
groes exclusively in all quartermaster 
port, bakery, laundry, sterilization and 
bath, mobile shoe and textile, refrigera- 
tion, salvage collecting, service, railhead, 
gasoline supply, and car units; in all en- 
gineer depot, general service, separate, 
water supply, and air base units; in all 
medical sanitation units; and in all 
chemical decontamination, depot, and 
impregnating companies. 36 

In addition to advocating the use of 



* Ibid., and attached list, White Units Due for 
Activation Between March 1 and December 31, 
1942 and Suitable for Activation by Colored 
Troops. 



these units for Negro personnel, the plan 
proposed the creation of two new types 
of units to absorb Negroes: station main- 
tenance companies, to be used for 
"policing areas now the responsibility of 
tactical units, for fighting range fires, for 
landscaping and grading, and for such 
other duties as would vitiate the tactical 
training or specialized functions of other 
units"; and metropolitan service com- 
panies, to be used to "move office 
furnishings, fixtures and supplies 
around cities and large headquarters, 
and generally to make Army installa- 
tions lacking sufficient organic service 
troops independent of unskilled civilian 
labor without diverting the time and 
energies of skilled headquarters person- 
nel." 37 

Had the plan been submitted and ap- 
proved, it would have accomplished 
more than the stated release of white 
manpower for combat units and the 
further deferment of skilled workers. 
It would have made possible the em- 
ployment of a larger number of Negroes, 
estimated at 861,000 by the end of 1943. 
This number would have been 171,600 
over the flat 10 percent figure. It would 
have provided a partial guarantee of the 
continuity of the Negro combat units. 
Under this plan, it would not only have 
been possible to supply the combat units 
with higher caliber men from the in- 
creased draft but it might also have been 
unnecessary to strip the combat units 
for personnel for critically needed serv- 
ice units in 1943, since a large reserve 
of men available for use in orthodox 
service units could have been obtained 
from the proposed "station" and 



m Ib id. 



152 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



"metropolitan" service units. More- 
over, the plan would have lessened later 
difficulties encountered in the deploy- 
ment o£ Negro troops overseas, for the- 
ater commanders requisitioning needed 
service units would have had no choice 
except to take Negro organizations if 
they were the only ones of their types 
available in the Army. 

The plan had several major draw- 
backs. It ignored the War Depart- 
ment's public position, still being 
reiterated, that Negroes would be used 
more extensively in all arms and serv- 
ices and the corollary policy that no type 
of unit would be exclusively white or 
Negro. It violated the principle that 
the number of Negroes employed by the 
Army would be proportionate to their 
numbers in the registered population, 
a maximum beyond which few in the 
Army were willing to go and one which 
the Army was experiencing considerable 
difficulty in reaching. It assumed that 
the provision of types of units into 
which men of relatively lower voca- 
tional and educational experience ought 
to fit would be successful, regardless of 
the leadership, officer and noncommis- 
sioned, that was supplied. But since 
the plan did not get beyond the War 
Plans Division, it had no formal effect 
upon the major department-wide dis- 
cussions of the employment of Negro 
troops in 1942. It can nevertheless be 
considered a straw in the wind for the 
renewal, in 1943, of proposals that the 
majority of Negro troops be placed in the 
services of supply, and for the growing 
conviction that Negro troops should be 
employed in ways that would release 
white troops for combat and technical 
duties. 



The Chamberlain Plan 

The third set of suggestions involving 
major changes in policy— greater than 
any that Judge Hastie or the War Plans 
Division had suggested— came in the 
fall of 1942 when the 1943 Troop 
Basis was taking final form. The chief 
of the Organization-Mobilization Group 
of G-3, Col. Edwin W. Chamberlain, 
proposed an end to the further activa- 
tion of Negro units. 

Accepting the point of view that Ne- 
groes in the mass, as shown by classifica- 
tion test scores, were less able and less 
useful to the Army than whites in the 
mass, and that the Army in 1943, 
especially in the face of the refusal of 
the naval services to take their full share, 
would be forced to take an even larger 
proportion of Negroes, Colonel Cham- 
berlain argued that separate units re- 
sulted in a considerable waste of 
manpower, funds, and equipment. Ne- 
gro selectees, with their poor back- 
grounds, could not continue to attempt 
to man needed units effectively. Fric- 
tion between white and Negro troops, 
Chamberlain believed, was "aggravated 
if not caused in its entirety by segrega- 
tion practices both within and without 
the Army." The War Department pol- 
icy of creating units in order to provide 
assignments for Negro personnel, cou- 
pled with the limitations which lower 
qualifications placed on the number and 
variety of Negro units, would produce 
"insurmountable" difficulties in 1943. 
Then, if the policy was continued and if 
the Army was required to induct its full 
proportion of Negroes while the Navy 
continued to take few, 21 percent of the 
planned augmentation would be Negro. 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



153 



To continue to place these men in spe- 
cial units not vital to the prosecution 
of the war or in normal units which 
could not be expected to come up to 
the highest standards was a waste of 
manpower. Both the friction and the 
waste could be avoided if Negroes were 
placed in otherwise white units in the 
ratio of one Negro to nine whites. 
Colonel Chamberlain admitted that his 
proposal would be "abhorrent to those 
who view the situation only superficially 
since it bears the earmarks of the inte- 
gration of Negroes with whites— a thing 
to which WD policy has long been 
opposed," but he felt that closer study 
would convince "reasonable men" that 
the solution was "no more integration 
of the white and colored races than is 
the employment of Negroes as servants in 
a white household." 38 

If current registration proportions 
continued, 89 of the average 100 men 
received from Selective Service in 1943 
would be white and 1 1 would be Negro. 
On the basis of current AGCT perform- 
ances, Chamberlain determined the 100 
would divide as follows: 



Group White Negro 

Superior (Grade I) 7 

Above Average (Grade II) .... 26 1 

Average (Grade III) 29 2 

Below Average (Grade IV) ... 19 3 

Inferior (Grade V) 8 5 

89 TT 



The whole number of Negroes below 
Grade III in the average 100 would be 
considerably fewer than the whole num- 
ber of whites. Negro selectees would be 
assigned to units by normal reception 
center classification. The eight out of 



eleven in below average classifications 
could be used as the cooks, orderlies, 
chauffeurs, truck drivers, kitchen police, 
and basics who made up from 10 to 20 
percent of the strength of the average 
unit. "It should be borne in mind," 
Chamberlain continued, "that the as- 
signment of the Negro to these lesser 
tasks comes about wholly through the 
natural selection— based on his capabil- 
ities—incident to the organization of a 
new unit from 100 men delivered more 
or less at random from reception cen- 
ters." 39 The remaining Negroes with 
demonstrated average and better quali- 
fications could be transferred to existing 
Negro units. Their abilities could be 
used to provide a gradual improvement 
in these units, increasing their employ- 
ability and, at the same time, providing 
an outlet for the ambitions and capabil- 
ities of the better qualified men. 

Negroes who complained of discrim- 
ination, Chamberlain felt, could not 
object to a solution that assigned a sol- 
dier wholly on the basis of his capabil- 
ities as determined by universally 
administered tests and that, at the same 
time, increased the possibility of Negro 
participation in the war effort. While 
he conceded that the plan was "radical" 
and that it would be "difficult to sell 
both in the WD and to the country at 
large," Colonel Chamberlain concluded 
that "either a solution such as the one 
proposed must be adopted or we must 
reconcile ourselves to the fact that we 
face a loss in equivalent manpower in 
the order of three quarters of a million 
men." 40 

This proposal was sent by Brig. Gen. 



88 Draft Memo (initialed E.W.C.) for Gen Ed- 
wards, G-g Negro File, 1943-44. 



M Ibid. 



154 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Idwal H. Edwards, the Assistant Chief 
of Staff, G-3, to several of the officers 
and agencies immediately concerned, 
including the Deputy Chief of Staff, the 
Operations Division, the new Advisory 
Committee on Negro Troop Policies, 
and the commanding generals of the 
Air, Ground, and Service Forces. Army 
Ground Forces was vitally concerned 
about the matter, since its combat units, 
seriously under their proportions of Ne- 
groes, would be directly affected. Its 
reactions were therefore a notable gauge 
both of the range of dissatisfaction with 
existing troop organization as it affected 
Negro soldiers and of the force of objec- 
tions to proposals for the individual 
integration of Negroes into the Army. 
These reactions illustrated, as well, the 
recognition within the Army that there 
were more desirable methods of organ- 
ization than the one being pursued. 

Aside from the general reaction that 
cooks, chauffeurs, and truck drivers 
could not necessarily be provided from 
low scoring men ("the jobs either re- 
quire schooling or the passing of an 
aptitude test, neither of which grade 5 
men are capable of doing," Ground 
G-4 wrote 41 ) , reactions in the Ground 
staff ranged from flat refusal to consider 
the proposals seriously to careful studies 
of portions of the plan considered useful. 
Ground G-3 wrote: 

There is no more reason why the two 
races can live closely together in the Array 
than in the Navy. If white and colored can 
live together in a company they can live 
together on a battle ship. The proposal 
involves a great deal more integration 
"than does the employment of negroes as 
servants in a white household." ... I be- 



a AGF M/S 4, G-4 to Plans, 2 Nov 4a, AGF 
322.999/1. 



Jieve we should state that the proposal is 
inadvisable due to the certainty that 
internal strife, dissension, and lowered mo- 
rale would result. 42 

Ground G-4 commented further that 
the time had come to return to the plan 
of attaching Negro regiments to white di- 
visions: "This will accomplish the same 
result as is indicated in the basic memo 
without the integration and will assure 
a proportionate share of battle casual- 
ties." 43 The Ground Plans Division 
argued that the integration of individ- 
uals into white companies would be no 
more successful than it had been in the 
Civilian Conservation Corps and that if 
a new plan were adopted it should be 
such that it could be used throughout 
the Army. The Plans Division pro- 
posed a scheme based on General Rom- 
mel's method for mixing Italian units 
with German troops. According to 
this proposal, the following units in 
each division would have Negro enlisted 
men and white officers: quartermaster 
battalions, service companies, and serv- 
ice batteries; one rifle company in each 
infantry battalion; one firing battery in 
each artillery battalion; one company in 
each engineer battalion; one company in 
each tank battalion of armored divi- 
sions. Of nondivisional combat units, 
90 percent could be mixed in the same 
manner, using all white officers; 10 per- 
cent of the separate combat battalions 
could be all Negro except for officers. 
Thirty percent of the nontechnical serv- 
ice units, such as service battalions and 
truck regiments, could be Negro with 
Negro officers; all officer candidates for 

42 AGF M/S 3, G-3 to G-i, 1 Nov 42, AGF 
322.999/1. 

43 AGF M/S 4, G-4 to Plans, 2 Nov 42, AGF 
322.999/1. 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



155 



these units would be chosen from among 
noncommissioned officers of the first 
four grades who had demonstrated their 
leadership abilities for a period of six 
months. 44 

General McNair, in the final answer 
of Army Ground Forces, limited his ac- 
ceptance to the idea which he had 
espoused before: that separate Negro bat- 
talions for attachment to other units of 
similar types should be the solution. 
In presenting his reaction to the pro- 
posal, General McNair restated the 
major objections to proposals for inte- 
gration as thoroughly as the War Depart- 
ment staff had done a year before: 

2. I agree with you [General Edwards, 
War Department G-g] that we must treat 
the problem of utilizing the negro from the 
purely military viewpoint. 

3. I am unalterably opposed to the 
incorporation of negroes in small units 
with white soldiers. Inevitably, such action 
would weaken the unit, since it would 
introduce men of comparatively low intelli- 
gence. We have a sufficiency of such men 
among white soldiers. A commander in the 
field disposes his forces principally accord- 
ing to, (1) the task ahead and (2) the 
capabilities of the units in connection with 
such tasks. Decisive operations usually call 
for specialized units at critical points. 
Weaker units can be disposed where their 
weakness will cause no serious ill effects. 
The introduction of negroes throughout 
our fighting units would tend to leave a 
commander with no outstanding units. 

4. In this war, shipping is the bottleneck 
of our military effort. It is entirely likely 
that we shall not be able to exert our 
maximum effort on account of shipping. It 
follows that we must see to it that every 
shipload of troops has the maximum of 
fighting power. Shipping should not be 
wasted on mediocrity. 

5. It is appreciated that the negro 

"AGF M/S, Plans to DCofS, 4 Nov 42, AGF 
322.999/1. 



problem must be solved, since it can not be 
disregarded. We already are placing negroes 
in service and auxiliary units to the 
maximum, and this practice, of course, 
should be continued. As to combat units, we 
are forming two infantry divisions wholly of 
negroes— the g2d and ggd divisions. The 
basic memorandum proposes a solution di- 
ametrically opposed to these two divisions. 
I agree that a colored division is too great a 
concentration of negroes to be effective, 
and feel that an intermediate solution 
would be better than either of these two 
extremes. 

6. The proposal to eliminate the regi- 
mental echelon for all units except the 
infantry is believed sound. In fact, there is 
much to recommend the battalion as the 
fighting unit of infantry; the British Army 
employs such an organization. If the size of 
negro combat units were limited to separate 
battalions they would be fully suitable for 
battle employment, yet the organization 
would permit the maximum of flexibility 
in such employment. They could be put in 
here and there where the situation was such 
that they could be useful and effective. It is 
believed that a policy along this line would 
solve satisfactorily the social problems in- 
volved and minimize the military difficul- 
ties. 

7. I favor: 

a. The maximum workable propor- 
tion of colored troops in service and 
auxiliary units. 

b. Colored combat units not larger 
than a battalion, organized so as to be 
self-administered. 45 

A variant in the Chamberlain plan 
was proposed by G-3 in the spring of 
1 943 48 This proposal was primarily 
an attempt to spread Negro laboring per- 
sonnel over a wider area of usefulness 
and to overcome the problem of obtain- 
ing adequate technical and supervisory 

48 Memo, Gen McNair for G-5, 11 Nov 42, AGF 
322.999/1 (Cld Trps) . Paragraph ■ (omitted) in- 
troductory only. 

" Memo, G- 3 for CG ASF, 23 Mar 43. WDGCT 
291.21 (3-23-43)- 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



leadership for Negro service units. 
White and Negro enlisted men would be 
combined in units whose battalion head- 
quarters and headquarters companies 
contained white technical and su- 
pervisory personnel— specialists and 
noncommissioned officers— while the 
remaining companies used Negro super- 
visory and laboring personnel. All 
specialists for these units were to be 
white; Negro supervisory leadership was 
to come from men no longer needed in 
the technical positions in battalion head- 
quarters. General hospitals with Ne- 
gro sanitary companies and port battal- 
ions with white operating companies 
and Negro stevedore companies were 
suggested examples of how this plan 
would work. 

Army Ground Forces G-i, in consid- 
ering this proposal, added another pos- 
sibility: Negro service companies or bat- 
talions could be attached to white units 
such as engineer general service regi- 
ments or quartermaster salvage and re- 
pair depots, thus relieving white "labor- 
ing" strength for use elsewhere. Other 
Ground Forces staff divisions, including 
the Ground G-3, Medical, Ordnance, 
Signal, Chemical, and Quartermaster 
sections, did not concur. "The result, 
if started in Ground Force units, would 
be amalgamation of the Negro enlisted 
personnel," Army Ground Forces ex- 
plained.*' 

Army Service Forces branches were 
no happier over the new G-3 proposal. 
The Corps of Engineers observed that 
such an experiment might work in its 
separate battalions but nowhere else. 
Engineer functions, the corps pointed 

"Memo. ACF for G- 3 , 16 Apr 43, AGF 



out, did not require "hand labor'* ex- 
cept in those cases where the proper as- 
sociated services had not furnished 
enough manpower, thereby causing en- 
gineer units to be taken away from 
construction projects while their equip- 
ment stood idle. If anything, the engi- 
neer separate battalions, "a relic of 
1917," should be reorganized to include 
more equipment and specialists or 
abolished outright. Where separate 
battalions were converted to general 
service regiments, the change had had 
"a marked effect on the efficiency of the 
colored units concerned even though a 
large percentage of the men are in 
grades fV and V in intelligence rating. 
It has been possible to select and train 
machinery operators and other special- 
ists satisfactorily when given the neces- 
sary time," the Engineers reported. In 
no event would the Engineers recom- 
mend the assignment of white noncom- 
missioned officers to Negro units. "To 
do so will make it almost impossible 
to develop organizational esprit among 
the colored men since they would have 
no opportunities for advancement. 
The matter of discrimination also en- 
ters," the corps added. 18 The Trans- 
portation Corps considered the proposal 
workable "altho it would destroy the 
morale of almost any unit if working 
sections were denied [a] chance for 
grades and rates in Headquarters." 
On the other hand, by careful selection, 
training, and supervision, and by the 
addition of heavy lift experts from the 
headquarters and headquarters com- 

"1st Ind, CofE to CG SOS, »8 Feb 43, to 
Memg, Hq ASF for Chiefs Svs, Surg Gen, QMC, 
PMC, and Dir SSD, 5 Feb 43. SPOPU (i-6- 
43) 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



157 



pany and from mobile port headquar- 
ters, Negro battalions as presently or- 
ganized would operate as well as white 
battalions, the Transportation Corps 
believed. 49 With both service and 
ground combat branches opposed, the 
proposal was abandoned. 

The Advisory Committee 

Most subsequent proposals for 
changes in the organization of Negro 
troops or other matters of Army-wide 
policy affecting Negroes were channeled 
through a new medium, the Advisory 
Committee on Negro Troop Policies, 
formed on 27 August 1942 with the As- 
sistant Secretary of War, John J. McCloy, 
as chairman. 50 The appointment of 
this committee came as a surprise to 
Judge Hastie and to Under Secretary Pat- 
terson. Not only was Hastie not ap- 
pointed to the committee, but nearly a 
month had passed when he informed 
Judge Patterson that he had heard in- 
directly that it had been organized. 
"This was news to me," Patterson told 
McCloy, "although I have been charged 
with discussion of matters concerning 

M/S, ACofTC for Opns to Col Hodson, 7 Apr 
43; Memo, Col Hodson for CofTC Tng Div, 7 Apr 
43. Both in TC 353 Tng Negro Units (Gen Files, 
zd Sec). 

60 Ltr, TAG 10 ASW, 27 Aug 42, AG 334.8 
(7-18-4?) OF-A. In addition to Mr. McCloy, the 
committee members were Brig. Gen. Benjamin O. 
Davis, Inspector General's Office; Brig. Gen. Idwal 
H. Edwards, WD G-3; Brig. Gen. Donald Wilson, 
WD G-i; Brig. Gen. Joseph H. Dalton, SOS; Col. 
Edward Barber, AGF; Col. John H. McCormick, 
AAF. While the personnel of the committee 
changed from time to lime, the same staff agencies 
and major commands were permanently repre- 
sented. This committee was known variously as 
the Negro Troop Committee, the Special Troop 
Policies Committee, and the McCloy Committee. 
For convenience, it is referred to hereafter as the 
Advisory Committee. 



negroes with Judge Hastie. The cre- 
ation of this board, without notice to 
him or participation by him, has-caused 
him a good deal of uneasiness, and it is 
one of the factors that has led him to 
question his usefulness as Special Aide 
to the Secretary of War on Negro Af- 
fairs. As you know, he has indicated 
before that he would like to resign and 
he has again told me that he does not 
believe he is accomplishing anything of 
a useful nature." 51 To the War Coun- 
cil, Patterson reported that Hastie had 
been constructive and helpful and that 
his resignation would be most unfortu- 
nate. 52 After discussing the matter 
with Hastie, Patterson reported to Stim- 
son similarly, saying: "I had not heard 
of the establishment of the committee 
until I received Hastie's letter, and I was 
not in a position to tell him what the 
purpose of the committee was. I can 
understand his feeling that his useful- 
ness has been impaired." 53 

Of the exact purpose of the committee, 
Secretary McCloy did not profess to be 
certain. It was indicated that, since it 
was made up primarily of military men, 
including two assistant chiefs of staff, 
the group would concern itself "strictly 
with military problems in the use of ne- 
gro troops and that the broader social 
problems were only incidentally in- 
volved." 54 The committee had been 
formed as a result of a recommendation 
made by G-i in July, approved by the 
Chief of Staff on 30 July, and by the 



01 Memo, USW Robert P. Patterson for ASW 
McCloy, 23 Sep 42, ASW 291.2 NTC. 

52 War Council Notes, 23 Sep 43, WDCSA files. 

53 Memo, USW for SW, 24 Sep 42, USW 891.2 
Race, Negro, Army. 

E! Memo, Lt J. M. Hall, OASW, for Mr. McCloy, 
28 Sep 42, ASW zoi.z NTC. 



158 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Secretary of War on 25 August 1942. 55 
The recommendation grew out of the 
reports of Col. Elliot D. Cooke of The 
Inspector General's Department, who, 
in the spring of 1942, made an extensive 
tour of posts, camps, and bases having 
Negro troops. Colonel Cooke found 
varying practices and policies with re- 
spect to the command of Negro troops at 
the many places visited. 58 As a result, 
G-i proposed the appointment of a 
permanent War Department committee 
of officers "who, informed by experi- 
ence, can evaluate racial incidents, pro- 
posed social reforms, and questions in- 
volving the training and use of negroes, 
male and female, in terms of an intimate 
understanding of War Department pol- 
icies." 57 

The suggested committee was to con- 
sist of a representative of each division 
of the General Staff, the Army Ground 
Forces, the Army Air Forces, the Serv- 
ices of Supply, the Chief of Engineers, 
The Quartermaster General, The Sur- 
geon General, and the Women's Army 
Auxiliary Corps. G-i proposed further 
that a white man "who is an outstanding 
leader in the mechanical and industrial 
education of young negro men, for ex- 
ample, the President of Hampton Insti- 
tute" be appointed as adviser to this 
special committee. The committee as 
proposed was considered too large; the 
recommendation as approved by the 
Chief of Staff carried the provision that 



"Memo, G-i for CofS, 18 Jul 42, AG 334 Ad- 
visory Com on Negro Trp Policies (11 Jul 42) (1) . 
(1); D/F, G-i to TAG, 11 Aug 42, AG 334 Ad- 
visory Com on Negro Trp Policies (11 Jul 42) (1) . 

M Ltr, OTIG (Col Elliot D. Cooke) to TIG, 25 
Jun 42, and 1st Ind, TIG to CofS, 29 Jul 42, 
WDCSA 333 (6-29-42) . 

67 Memo, G-i for CofS, 18 Jul 42, AG 334 Ad- 
visory Com on Negro Trp Policies (1) . 



the committee "be kept small and 
headed by Mr. McCloy." 58 

The chairman of the new committee, 
reflecting opinion that had grown with- 
in the War Department during the past 
few months, had already expressed his 
view of the nature of the Army's racial 
problem. Earlier in the summer, after 
a discussion of the attitude of the Negro 
press and organizations toward the war 
and the Army, Hastie informed Secre- 
tary McCloy that he was disturbed "that 
you seem to have been persuaded (1) 
that Negroes should not agitate for the 
elimination of undemocratic practices at 
home during these critical times; and 
(2) that the continuation of such agita- 
tion would do more harm than good." 
When these matters were discussed 
from time to time, Hastie continued, he 
hoped that the Assistant Secretary 
would point out "the basic issues of this 
war and the impossibility of foreclosing 
those issues at home while we stir people 
up to fight for them all over the 
world." 59 To this McCloy replied: 

I think I probably ought to state in 
writing what my attitude is. Of course, 
there is no group in the country that 
should not agitate for the elimination of 
undemocratic practices. Like sin, everyone 
is against undemocratic practices. What I 
urge upon the Negro press is to lessen their 
emphasis upon discriminatory acts and 
Color incidents irrespective of whether the 
White or the Colored man is responsible 
for starting them. Frankly, I do not think 
that the basic issues of this war are involved 
in the question of whether Colored troops 



68 Penciled note dated 30 Jul 42, signed D. W., 
[Gen Wilson] on Info Memo OCS signed J. T. M. 
[Gen McNarney] for CofS, 27 Jul 42, in AG 334 
Advisory Com on Negro Trp Policies (18 Jul 42) 
(>)• 

"Memo, Civ Aide for ASW, 30 Jun 42, ASW 
291.2 NT 1942. 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



159 



serve in segregated units or in mixed units 
and 1 doubt whether you can convince the 
people of the United States that the basic 
issues of freedom are involved in such a 
question. In its policy of playing up the 
incidents of which I speak, I believe that 
papers like the Pittsburgh Courier and, 
perhaps, some others, serve to take the mind 
of the Negro soldier and the Negroes 
generally off what you term the basic issue 
of the war. If the United States does not 
win this war, the lot of the Negro is going 
to be far, far worse than it is today. Yet, 
there is, it seems to me, an alarmingly large 
percentage of Negroes in and out of the 
Army who do not seem to be vitally 
concerned about winning the war. This, to 
my mind, indicates that some forces are at 
work misleading the Negroes. I bespeak 
greater emphasis on the necessity for greater 
out and out support of the war, particularly 
by the Negro press, and I feel certain that 
the objects for which you aim will come 
closer to achievement if the existing 
emphasis is shifted than if it is not. 60 

After the establishment of the Ad- 
visory Committee Judge Hastie con- 
tinued to work on some matters through 
Judge Patterson's office; he presented 
other suggestions through Assistant Sec- 
retary McCloy's office for consideration 
of the Advisory Committee. The com- 
mittee made recommendations of its 
own from time to time. It considered 
the broad plans originating in the staff 
divisions, attempted to keep abreast of 
the developing racial situation in the 
country, and proposed measures which 
it hoped would have a beneficial effect 
upon racial matters within the Army. 
G-i and G-3 prepared summaries of 
existing policies for discussion and, at 
the second meeting of the committee 
on 24 October, the Chamberlain plan 
was presented by G-3, Brig. Gen. Idwal 

50 Memo, ASW for Judge Hastie, 2 Jul 42, ASW 
291.2 NT 194a. 



H. Edwards. Reaction to the plan, and 
especially to the proposal to experiment 
with mixed personnel on a small scale, 
was favorable, "but there was a marked 
reluctance to recommend such a radical 
step all at once," one member re- 
ported. 81 

At the same meeting a proposal came 
from Brig. Gen. Frederick H. Osborn's 
Special Service Division that segregation 
in Army motion picture houses be 
abandoned. This proposal grew out of 
a conference on segregation in theaters 
on Massachusetts posts between Hastie; 
his assistant, Truman K. Gibson, Jr.; Dr. 
Donald Young of the Joint Army-Navy 
Committee on Welfare and Recreation 
and the Special Service Division; and 
Matthew Bullock. It was agreed that 
Young would urge the Special Service 
Division and the Joint Army-Navy Com- 
mittee to recommend issuance of a pol- 
icy statement that "colored personnel be 
neither excluded from nor segregated in 
any theater located within a military 
reservation," with the added provision 
that a local commander could submit to 
the Commanding General, SOS, recom- 
mendations for exceptions to avoid 
serious trouble. The conferees thought 
that complete elimination would en- 
counter no serious trouble but that the 
addition of a modifying provision would 
increase the chances for success. 62 The 
proposal was discussed at length. It had 
been approved by Under Secretary Pat- 
terson, but Assistant Secretary McCloy 
had secured a reversal. The Advisory 

^M/S, Col Edward Barber for CofS AGF, 24 
Oct 4a, AGF G-1/380. 

112 Memo, Donald Young for Francis Keppel, Secy 
JANCWR, and Gen Osborn, 10 Sep 42, SSB 291.2 
(9-27-41) (1) ; Memo, Howard C. Peterson, Special 
Asst to USW, for Mr. McCloy, 14 Oct 4a, ASW 
291,2 Gen 1942. 



160 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Committee agreed to seek more informa- 
tion and, if possible, avoid public an- 
nouncement of policy on the subject. It 
would deal with each situation as it came 
up. 63 

In November, Hastie suggested sev- 
eral matters which the Advisory Com- 
mittee might wish to consider. These 
included a renewal of his criticisms of 
the Troop Basis for 1942, which, he be- 
lieved, applied to the 1943 Troop Basis 
as well. He made new recommenda- 
tions for increasing opportunities for the 
technical training of Negro enlisted 
men and officers and he reminded the 
committee of the need for a definite 
War Department policy against racial 
discrimination in Army theaters, post 
exchanges, and similar facilities. 84 

Brig. Gen. Benjamin O. Davis, in the 
meantime, worked out a proposal for 
the operation of the Advisory Commit- 
tee. 65 Davis proposed that the committee 
recommend "the breaking down of the 
so-called 'Jim Crow' practices within the 
War Department and on the military 
reservations, and the securing of the 
cooperation of the communities near 
the reservations to that end." He pro- 
posed, as Hastie had done earlier, the 
issuance of a directive "announcing that 
military necessity required a closer 
unity and comradeship among all races 
constituting our citizenry." In addi- 
tion, he proposed orientation courses, 
emphasizing the contribution of Negroes 
to America and attempting to make 
white soldiers realize the "great respon- 



"M/S, Col Barber for CofS AGF, 24 Oct 4s, 
AGF G-1/380. 

"Memo, Civ Aide for ASW, 4 Nov 42, ASW 
391.8 NTC. 

"Memo, Davis for Committee [Fall of 1942], 
ASW 291.2 NTC. 



sibility" resting upon them in achieving 
unity of aims within the Army. Gen- 
eral Davis included a recommendation 
that the term "colored" instead of "Ne- 
gro" be used to designate race in official 
Army materials. Like many other Ne- 
groes, Davis believed that many of the 
internal racial difficulties of the Army 
and the civilian community at large, 
sprang from the ill-considered use of 
epithets such as "nigger." In connec- 
tion with the original Hastie Survey, a 
staff discussion of the wisdom of issuing 
a directive outlawing the use of this and 
similar terms extended over a period of 
several months. General Davis, while 
agreeing that it was desirable to reduce 
this source of racial friction, felt that 
general orientation in Army race rela- 
tions was preferable to a directive out- 
lawing the term. 66 Neither set of 
recommendations submitted by General 
Davis was dealt with immediately, 
though features of both proposals were 
later adopted under other circumstances. 

In December, the Advisory Commit- 
tee, after surveying the field through re- 
ports from staff agencies, recommended 
the use of Negroes in harbor defense 
units in order to reduce their employ- 
ment in antiaircraft units; the activation 
of a Negro parachute battalion "for pur- 
poses of enhancing the morale and esprit 
de corps of the negro people"; the assign- 
ment of Negroes to combat engineer 
units to avoid "what may prove to be a 
perfectly justifiable charge of discrimina- 
tion against the negro through his as- 
signment almost exclusively to general 
service engineer regiments"; and the 



"Memo, TIG for CofS, ig Nov 41; Memo, Civ 
Aide for USW, 30 Dec 41; Memo, USW for DCofS, 
10 Jan 42. All in G— 1 15640-15646. 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



161 



use of Negroes in ambulance battalions 
in lieu of white troops, thus reducing 
the numbers who otherwise would have 
been placed in medical sanitary units. 
On these recommendations General 
Marshall noted marginally, "Seems 
O.K." for harbor defense units, "Start 
a company" for the parachute battalion 
recommendation, and "excellent" for 
each of the other two recommenda- 
tions. 67 

Because of the difficulty of locating 
harbor defense units so that they would 
not cause objections from the towns 
which they were supposed to protect, and 
because the need for such units rapidly 
diminished as the danger of attacks on 
the American coast lessened, no Negro 
harbor defense units, as such, were 
formed. The 555th Parachute Com- 
pany was constituted on the inactive 
list in February 1943, activated at the 
end of the year, and raised to a battalion 
in November 1 944. 68 Twelve motor am- 
bulance companies were activated in 
1943 and two others were added later. 
Though the Chief of Engineers and 
Army Ground Forces continued to object 
to the activation of combat engineer 
units other than those necessary to di- 
visions, combat engineer battalions were 
eventually activated from personnel of 
converted units of the arms in 1943, 
1944, and 1945. Most of these later be- 
came construction and general service 
units. 

Throughout its career the Advisory 



™ Memo, Advisory Com on NegTO Trp Policies 
(Col John H. McCormick, A.C., recorder) for 
CofS, 24 Dec 42, WDSA 251.21 (12-24-42). 

68 AG 320.2 (2-1-43) OB-I-GNGCT, 25 Feb 43; 
AG 322 (7 Dec 43) OB-I-GNGCT, 8 Dec 43; AGF 
322/129 (Inf) GNGCT, 19 Dec 43. The company 
was activated 30 Dec 43; the battalion, 25 Nov 44. 




Paratrooper Trainees in column for- 
mation about to board an Army transport at 
Fort Benning. 

Committee, acting in part as a clearing 
house for staff ideas on the employment 
of Negro troops and in part as a channel 
and consultation board for civilian ideas 
on the use of Negro troops, continued to 
exercise a lively interest in and, at times, 
partial control over the provision and 
use of Negro units. Its activities grad- 
ually extended into an interest in the 
entire racial pattern within the Army 
as well as into a concern with Army- 
civilian relations where racial matters 
were involved. But, before the end of 
1942, the committee had taken no posi- 
tive action upon either Judge Hastie's 
or General Davis's recommendations on 
the improvement of race relations with- 
in the Army. Hastie's resignation at 
the beginning of the New Year helped 



162 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



galvanize the committee into action on 
certain of these proposals. 

Air Forces Proposals and Hastie's 
Resignation 

Since the establishment o£ the Air 
Corps flying school at Tuskegee, Judge 
Hastie had watched developments in the 
Air Forces with particular concern. 
The Tuskegee school had been vig- 
orously opposed by the NAACP and by 
most of the more influential members 
of the Negro press. In the first months of 
its existence, the school was studiously 
ignored by the larger newspapers. Ne- 
gro public figures, when referring to the 
pilots in training there, began to term 
them "Lonely Eagles," men destined to 
fly and fight separately from the rest of 
the Air Forces if at all. 

In the summer of 1942, as successive 
classes of pilots were being graduated, 
interest in the school rose, and the Ne- 
gro press covered Tuskegee closely. 
No longer was the seriousness of the Air 
Forces training program doubted. Ne- 
groes were now concerned about the 
seriousness of the intentions of the Air 
Forces to use the units being formed at 
Tuskegee, about the restriction of Ne- 
groes to single-engine pilot training, and 
about the long lists of eligible appli- 
cants awaiting entry to the flying school. 
Critics of the program pointed out that 
the percentage of single-engine pilots 
needed by the Air Corps was limited, 69 
and therefore that Negroes who did not 
qualify for single-engine training were 
automatically deprived of an opportun- 



** Estimated at 36 percent of the cadet training 
program in the spring of 1942, 3d Ind, AAF Div 
of Individual Tng to CG AAFFTC, 19 Apr 42, 
AAF 353.9 Tng of Negroes. 



ity to pursue any other type of flying 
training. The physical size limitations 
on single-engine trainees— maximum 
height and weight limitations of five 
feet, nine inches, and 160 pounds— cut 
further the number of Negroes eligible 
for this one type of training. 70 

The limitation of Negro nonpilot of- 
ficer training to the few aerial observers 
and weather, armament, and engineer- 
ing officers required by units then in 
being was further questioned and criti- 
cized. The Air Forces' refusal to accept 
applicants for appointment as service 
pilots and its requirement that Negro 
medical officers take courses in aviation 
medicine by correspondence and in lo- 
cal branch schools were cited as evidence 
that the Air arm had not kept up with 
the rest of the Army in providing full 
opportunities for qualified Negroes. 
The Air Forces denied that it was pur- 
suing restrictive practices. It was filling 
authorized vacancies and training men 
according to existing War Department 
policies and within the limits of avail- 
able resources. 71 The major difficulty 
seen by the Army Air Forces in carrying 
out its Negro training program 
was one of maintaining this training 
without undue enlargement. "We are 
pressed on every side," General Ar- 
nold declared, "by negro sympathizers to 
increase the program beyond any bounds 
of its usefulness. The increase cannot 
be made until an opportunity has been 
afforded the 99th Pursuit Squadron to 



m Ltr, AAFFTC to Air Surgeon, 28 May 42, 
AAFFTC 291.2 (5-28-42) . These limitations did 
not apply to the first Tuskegee classes. 

71 See CofAS for Col St, Clair Streett, 31 Oct 41, 
13 attachments and subsequent correspondence in 
ASWA a 9 1.2. See also AAF 291.2 Cld Trps and 
AAF 353.9 Cld Tng. 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



163 



prove its worth in actual combat oper- 
ations." 72 

It was on the question of how training 
for units then in being was to be carried 
out as well as on developments at Tus- 
kegee that Judge Hastie finally resolved 
to resign. One of the reasons for his 
original position in 1940, of neither ap- 
proving nor yet of actively opposing the 
establishment of the Tuskegee school, 
was that the immediate gain in Negro 
utilization outweighed the advantages of 
continued opposition to the separate 
training station. 73 Flying training 
would begin at a station where Negro 
cadets could learn to fly and Negro offi- 
cers would ultimately have the oppor- 
tunity of command not only in the pro- 
jected flying unit but also in the post's 
staff positions. Hastie was not disposed 
to support either a diminution of the 
expected gains or an extension of the 
separate Tuskegee pattern to other Air 
Forces— and, by possible precedent, to 
other Army— training activities. 

Having established a logic for the Tus- 
kegee installation, the Air Forces faced 
the necessity of extending that logic to 
all training connected with the units at 
the Tuskegee station. This was at first 
attempted by trying to confine most of 
that training to Tuskegee itself, a devel- 
opment involving attendant changes in 
plans for the control of activities there. 
When Tuskegee grew too crowded to ac- 
commodate further training projects, the 
extension of the same pattern elsewhere 
was proposed. The result was the war's 
most extended and most detailed at- 
tempt to define and to apply theories of 



75 Memo, CG AAF to CofS, a Jul 42, AAF 353.9 
Tng of Negroes. 
™ See chs. |"nri and fv] above. 



the benefits of separate training for Ne- 
groes. 

In the meantime, Hastie became con- 
cerned about the intentions of the Air 
Forces to meet commitments already 
made. In July 1942, he inquired about 
the Air Forces progress in training Ne- 
groes to replace white administrative 
officers at Tuskegee. 74 General Arnold 
replied that, since the school actually 
opened in October 1941, the year re- 
quired to train replacements was not yet 
up. "There has been no change in our 
original plans of the procedure to be 
followed," he assured Hastie. 15 

The following fall, Hastie inquired 
again about plans to replace white offi- 
cers with Negroes. The question by 
this time had assumed greater impor- 
tance, for several Negro officers assigned 
to Tuskegee, including finance, chemical 
warfare, medical, and athletic officers, 
some of them of considerable standing in 
the Negro peacetime community, had 
been given subordinate and, in some 
cases, no actual assignments at all. This 
time the inquiry was referred to the 
Southeast Army Air Force Training 
Command (SEAAFTC) at Maxwell 
Field, under whose jurisdiction Tuske- 
gee came. The command indicated that 
it considered it unwise to use Negro offi- 
cers in post administrative positions at 
the field. SEAAFTC reminded AAF 
that the plan which Hastie referred to 
was a prewar plan. No subsequent direc- 



71 The following were white officers at this time: 
Commanding Officer, Director of Training, Execu- 
tive, Adjutant, Administrative Inspector, Senior 
Surgeon, Utilities Officer, Signal Officer, Intelligence 
Officer, Public Relations Officer, Post Quartermaster, 
and twelve flying instructors. 

75 Memo, CG AAF for Hastie, 10 Aug 42, AAF 
353-9 Tn g o f Negroes. 



164 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



tive requiring the substitution of Negro 
for white officers had been issued. In any 
event the original plan, calling for 1 1 
white officers, 15 white noncommissioned 
officers, and a full garrison of only 47 
officers and 429 enlisted men, was no 
longer applicable, since Tuskegee now 
had 217 officers and 3,000 enlisted men. 
SEAAFTC argued that considerable ef- 
fort to locate and develop reliable Negro 
officers had been made, but that none 
had been forthcoming. Anyway, the 
command pointed out, every command- 
ing officer has the prerogative of selecting 
his own staff officers. "In general, col- 
ored officers do not possess the necessary 
technical background to qualify them to 
occupy supervisory positions now filled 
by white officers," SEAAFTC said. 
"They are definitely lacking in the qual- 
ifications essential for leadership and the 
urgency of the war situation does not 
justify experimentation." Further- 
more, the best qualified Negro officers 
available to it, the command continued, 
were assigned to Task Force units at 
Tuskegee. The remainder would be 
needed for new fighter and service 
groups, which, at the time, had almost 
no personnel. The responsibilities of 
the Tuskegee commander and of his 
staff were multiple and the replacement 
of white by Negro officers would "not 
only reduce the present efficiency of the 
station but in all probability tend to 
defeat the purpose of this effort." The 
command considered Hastie's interest in 
the matter "more racial than military. 
The purpose and function of this com- 
mand is military training and it has no 
interest in the racial question. . . . Un- 
less instructed to the contrary, military 
efficiency and military expediency will 
continue to be the determining factors 



in the selection of training personnel at 
Tuskegee as is the policy at all other 
stations under the jurisdiction of this 
headquarters." 76 The possibility that 
Tuskegee would become an all-Negro 
post, as originally planned and as con- 
sistent with the objective of complete 
segregation, was not bright. 

But, consistent with the goal of train- 
ing the Negro squadrons with the least 
difficulty, the Air Forces continued to 
add training facilities at Tuskegee, 
thereby relieving itself of the necessity 
of training Negro specialists and tech- 
nicians at its established schools, many of 
which were in the South. To the addi- 
tion of technical schools to the Tuskegee 
program Hastie objected in June 1942. 
"Thus the Army Air Forces carry one 
step further a plan of confining as much 
of the training of Negroes as possible 
to the Tuskegee project. It must be 
expensive and uneconomical utilization 
of personnel and materials thus to dupli- 
cate training facilities for relatively 
small numbers of men," he observed to 
Robert A. Lovett, the Assistant Secretary 
of War for Air. Pointing out that tech- 
nicians and mechanics for the two squad- 
rons already activated had been trained 
at Chanute Field, Illinois, and that in 
the rest of the Army Negroes were being 
trained in existing schools, he predicted 
that the new plan would develop the 
same defects as pilot training: it would 
be slow, expensive, and circumscribed. 
He hoped that the plan would be re- 
examined. Secretary Lovett penciled a 
note to his executive officer: "Col Coiner 



™ad Wrapper Ind, Hq SEAAFTC Co CG 
AAFFTC, Ft. Worth, Tex., 19 Nov 42, AAF 291.2 
Negro Misc. See also, 1st Ind, AAF for Civ Aide, 
29 Oct 42, AAF 353.9 Cld Tng. 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



165 



—pis investigate; why was Chanute 
dropped?" 77 

"It appears to me that Judge Hastie 
and his assistant are interested only in 
having their people trained at the well- 
known Chanute school— not in the train- 
ing or the facility thereof,'' Colonel 
Coiner observed as he began to investi- 
gate the reasons for abandoning Negro 
training at Chanute. 78 After conferring 
with Col. Luther S. Smith, the Air 
Forces Director of Individual Training, 
who as director of Training at the 
Southeast Air Corps Training Center in 
1941 had been responsible for organiz- 
ing the training program at Tuskegee, 
Colonel Coiner informed Secretary Lov- 
ett that training at Chanute had been 
dropped because it was only reasonable 
to expand training for Negroes at the 
place where their units were located. 
An additional construction program for 
Tuskegee to provide facilities for tech- 
nical training had been authorized some 
months before and the program was now 
"either completed or so far along as to 
be classed completed." 79 

Plans for technical training at Tuske- 
gee were nevertheless being changed. 
The 99th Pursuit Squadron was sched- 
uled to be committed to action by 1 
October 1942. Pilots and mechanics for 
the 100th Pursuit Squadron, which was 
to be the senior squadron in a planned 
fighter group, were in training. The 
full group was to be completed during 
the fiscal year 1943. Since the group 
was to be activated and trained at Tus- 



77 Memo, Civ Aide for ASWA, 30 Jun 42, and 
attached note, ASWA 291.2. 

18 Memo, Lt Col Richard T. Coiner (ExO ASWA) 
for Lovett, 4 Jul 42, ASWA 291.2. 

78 Note for Lovett, dated 21 Jul 42, signed RTC, 
ASWA 391.2. 



kegee at the same time that the station 
was carrying on other flying training 
activities, the Air Forces was considering 
the establishment of a separate technical 
school for Negroes at another site to 
relieve Tuskegee of the responsibility 
for conducting the two distinctly differ- 
ent types of training at the same time. 80 
In August the Air Forces informed its 
Technical Training Command 
(AAFTTC) that facilities tentatively 
provided at Tuskegee for technical train- 
ing would not be used for this purpose. 
"If deemed advisable by you, you will be 
authorized to establish a detachment at 
Tuskegee for the training of negro offi- 
cer candidates," AAFTTC was told. 
Contract facilities at a Negro university 
or similar institution might be obtained 
for other technical training. 81 

By autumn the situation had changed 
further. The Army Air Forces was now 
expecting to take over the basic training 
of all its personnel of the arms and serv- 
ices (ASWAAF) , including 6,000 Ne- 
groes a month for the remainder of 1942 
and 9,000 per month for ig4g. 82 With 
flying training expanding at Tuskegee, 
the need for technically trained enlisted 
and officer personnel was increasing rap- 
idly. The Technical Training Com- 
mand considered acquiring Prairie View 
College in Texas for this purpose, and 
the Third Air Force, seeking a location 
for the tactical training of units that 
would be removed from the crowded 
Tuskegee station, looked over a site at 
Fort Davis, Alabama, southeast of the 

80 Memo, CG AAF for CofS, 2 Jul 42, AAF 353.9 
Tng of Negroes. 

81 Ltr, Hq AAF to CG AAFTTC, Knollwood Fid, 
N.C., 5 Aug 42, AAF 353-A Negro Tng. 

M Draft Ltr attached to R&RS, AFRIT-g (In- 
dividual Tng) for CofAS, 26 Oct 42, AAF 353-A 
Negro Tng. 



166 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Tuskegee school on the other side of the 
town of Tuskegee. This site, previ- 
ously considered for the flying school 
location, was abandoned, partly because 
of protests from the white citizens of 
Tuskegee who felt that with Tuskegee 
Institute, a Veterans' Administration 
Hospital, and one Army and one contract 
flying installation already existing to the 
north, east, and west of the town, an 
additional installation for Negroes to the 
south would encircle the town com- 
pletely. 83 As yet, there was no over-all 
plan for the training of Negroes who 
could not be accommodated at Tuske- 
gee. 

On 25 October, the Technical Train- 
ing Command submitted a plan which 
called not only for the establishment of 
a separate technical school for Negroes 
but also for separate officer training, offi- 
cer candidate, and clerical schools plus 
a basic training center, all to be concen- 
trated at Jefferson Barracks, in St. Louis. 
Thus, all Negro training for the Air 
Forces would be on a completely segre- 
gated basis, concentrated at Tuskegee 
and at Jefferson Barracks. 84 

Independent of the remainder of the 
plan and of geographical considerations, 
the concentration of all Negro replace- 
ment training for the Air Forces at one 
post had certain advantages, the Air 
Forces believed. The Air Forces had 
experienced some difficulty in extracting 
the desired number of technical trainees 
from its aviation squadrons. Among 
their other duties, these squadrons gave 

83 Record of Corresp received, 27 Sep 42, No. 601- 
Tex., in ASWA 291.21; Ltr, Hq AAFSETC, Maxwell 
Fid, Ala., to CG AAF, 20 Nov 42, AAF 666 Ft. 
Davis, Ala.; Memo, A-4 for Gen Arnold, 21 Nov 
42, AAF 676.3 Installations-H. 

84 Ltr, AAFTC, Knollwood Fid, N.C., to CG AAF, 
25 Oct 42, AAF 353.01 Est. 



basic training to Negro selectees assigned 
directly from reception centers. On 19 
August 1942, the Air Forces sent a circu- 
lar letter asking aviation squadrons to 
report qualified enlisted men for techni- 
cal school training. By 5 October only 
44 out of 85,000 men had been reported 
available. "The results so far obtained 
from the above referred to letter are of 
no value whatever," Army Air Forces in- 
formed its field commanders. Pointing 
out its desire to start a large-scale pro- 
gram, the Air Forces again instructed its 
commands to report qualified enlisted 
men by number and course, but most 
reports continued to be negative. 85 Con- 
centration of replacement trainees at one 
post would permit proper classification 
and assignment of potential technical 
trainees before units found other jobs 
for them to do. 

There was not complete certainty 
within the Air Staff of the wisdom of the 
proposal to concentrate all training for 
Negroes at separate posts. A policy let- 
ter on the subject, addressed to the 
Technical Training Command, was pre- 
pared by the Director of Individual 
Training on 26 October for the signature 
of the Chief of the Air Staff. This letter 
began: "Confirming past verbal direc- 
tives, the training of negroes will be 
accomplished through segregation." It 
directed the commanding general of the 
Technical Training Command to select 
"a. suitable site or sites" for the basic 
training of enlisted Negroes of the Air 
Forces and of the Arms and Services with 
the Air Forces, for technical training of 



86 Ltr, Hq AAF to CG's Tng Sv Comds and 
Numbered AF's, 19 Aug 42, AAF 220.9; Ltr, Dir 
Pers AAF (Col J. M. Bevans) to same, 5 Oct 42, 
AA F 353-9 Tr »g o f Negroes; Rpts in AAF 333.9 
Tng of Negroes. 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



167 



enlisted men and officers, for the admin- 
istrative training of officers, and for such 
individual training as the Services of 
Supply could not provide for Negro 
ASWAAF personnel. The draft of this 
letter was submitted to the Air Training 
Division for approval before submission 
to the Chief of the Air Staff. Though 
pointing out that "former training pol- 
icies regarding negro troops have not 
favored segregation, however recent de- 
velopments indicate that it is desirable 
to accomplish this type of training thru 
segregation," the Training Division con- 
curred. The office of the Chief of the 
Air Staff then routed the proposal to 
the Director of Program Planning 
(AFDPU) for concurrence. AFDPU 
did concur but recommended that the di- 
rective be given "a very limited distribu- 
tion and any reference thereto be defi- 
nitely confined to a limited number of 
people." The Chief of Air Staff, Maj. 
Gen. George E. Stratemeyer, then di- 
rected that the Assistant Chief of Air 
Staff, A-i, indicate concurrence or non- 
concurrence "by his own signature." 
A-i concurred. 86 But, after a personal 
conference with Maj. Gen. Walter R. 
Weaver of the Army Air Forces Techni- 
cal Training Command, General Strate- 
meyer recommended that the letter be 
withdrawn. There was no need for it, 
since the proposal covered was already 
projected for Jefferson Barracks. The 
policy appeared to be settled. All Air 
Forces training for Negroes would be 
given at racially separate schools and 
posts. 87 

90 RScRS's, AFRIT-3 to AFCAS, AFCAS to 
AFDPU, AFDPU to AFCAS, AFCAS to AFFAP, 
AFAAP to AFCAS, 26 Oct to 2 Nov 42, AAF 353A 
Negro Trig. 

^R&RS, AFCAS (Lt Col Millard A. Libby) for 
AFRIT, 2 Nov 42, AAF 353A Negro Tng. General 



Action was being taken to comply with 
the Technical Training Command's 
plan 88 when news of the change at Jef- 
ferson Barracks reached St. Louis. 
Irate white citizens and organizations 
protested vigorously. "All Hell broke 
loose out there and the Mayor called 
me and talked to me for about a half 
hour last night," General Weaver in- 
formed Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Hanley, 
the Deputy Chief of the Air Staff. "The 
city of St. Louis is up in arms about this 
thing, and I thought I'd better tip you 
fellows off up there," he continued. 89 
Washington had already heard of the 
St. Louis reaction. Missouri congress- 
men had been querying the War Depart- 
ment about the proposal. The Air 
Forces was advised to discuss the matter 
with the Advisory Committee, and de- 
cision on the full proposal was post- 
poned. 

In the meantime, the Individual 
Training Section of the Air Staff had 
prepared a justification for providing the 
Technical Training Command with a 
policy for carrying out its proposals. 
This staff section argued that the central, 
north-south border location of Jefferson 
Barracks near a metropolitan area with 
a large Negro civilian population would 
"absolutely minimize the tremendous 
problem arising from racial prejudice." 

Smith noted on the R&RS (handwritten) : "File 
without further action— Cleared verbally with Lt 
Col Libby. LSS" and "Barbey: This constitutes a 
policy for further action— LSS 11/6." 

88 R&RS's, 4 Nov 42 and 6 Nov 42; R&RS, AFRIT 
for AFCAS, 1 1 Nov 42; Memo, AAF (DCofAS) for 
CofS, attention G-3, 13 Nov 42, all in AAF 353.9 
Cld Tng (dispatched 17 Nov 42) ; Ltr, TAG to 
CG's Major Comds, Sv Comds, RTC's, 7 Nov 42, 
AG 324.71 (11-7-42) OC-S-M. 

88 Tel Conv, Maj Gen Walter Weaver, Knoll- 
wood Fid, N.C., and Brig Gen T. J. Hanley, Wash- 
ington, 11 Nov 42, AAF 2gi.2 Negroes. See also 
AAF 291.2 (Races) binder 1. 



168 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Jefferson Barracks would reduce the haz- 
ards to training arising from racial dis- 
crimination. Segregation of Negro 
troops there was regarded as a safeguard 
against discrimination: 

The problem must be faced candidly and 
impartially, for the following reasons: 

(1) A poorly selected location ge- 
ographically will irritate and amplify racial 
prejudices, which seriously hamper individ- 
ual training. We cannot allow such a 
consideration to in turn hamper our 
individual training efforts, which are de- 
signed for the sole purpose of producing 
efficient fighting-fit troops. 

(2) We cannot allow racial prejudices 
to interfere with our administration of 
present policy, as well as human justice, 
which dictate that the Army Air Forces will 
provide training opportunities for colored 
troops which are equal to those given to 
white troops. 



e. Segregation must be followed, par- 
ticularly for phases of individual training, 
as a safeguard against charges of racial 
discrimination, and to permit of proper 
inspections in this phase. 

/. Jefferson Barracks is one of the 
best posts of the Army Air Forces, for any 
types of troops. It is rich in traditions and 
honorable history, being one of the oldest 
posts in our Army's history. ... It is be- 
lieved that Jefferson Barracks will lend it- 
self admirably to being publicized as the 
"Colored Miami Beach Schools," in the 
same manner as we have publicized the 
flying school at Tuskegee as the "Colored 
West Point of the Air." 90 

Neither Air Personnel nor Air Train- 
ing concurred in this presentation of the 
proposal, 91 but the Deputy Chief of Air 

80 R&RS, Dir Individual Tng for AFAAP, AFACT, 
AFCAS, in turn, 11 Nov 42, AAF 353-A Negro Tng. 

81 AFAAP (Col F. Trubee Davison) simply wrote 
"Non-concur" (penciled) ; AFACT ("R. W. 
H.[arper]," also penciled) explained: "Non-concur 
in conversion of Jeff Bks to all-colored. Segrega- 
tion better done by small number of colored units 



Staff, General Hanley, did concur and 
the next day initiated action for the 
preparation of a formal proposal based 
on Individual Training's reasoning for 
presentation to the Chief of Staff and 
the Advisory Committee. "General 
Arnold, the Chief of Air Staff and the 
Deputy Chief of Air Staff concur in the 
idea that the segregation of negroes, as 
outlined in this paper, is the best way 
to train them in the Army Air Forces," 
Hanley indicated to Col. Aubry L. 
Moore, of Program Planning, when di- 
recting preparation of the necessary pa- 
pers. There should be no publicity or 
action toward carrying out the policy 
until the plans clear through the Advis- 
ory Committee, the Deputy Chief of Air 
Staff added. 92 The formal request, 
dated 13 November, was forwarded to 
G-3 on 17 November but was returned 
without action, for in the interval still 
other changes in the program had oc- 
curred. 93 

The Technical Training Command 
on 16 November had renewed its re- 
quest for approval of the concentration 
of all Negro training at Jefferson Bar- 
racks, adding that pending approval or 
the issuance of other directives the flow 
of Negro recruits to the command 
should be stopped. This proposal was 
returned to the Technical Training 
Command as not favorably considered, 94 

scattered throughout the country." Both comments 
dated 11 Nov 42. R&RS cited n. 90. 

m R&RS, DCofAS for AFDPU (Col Moore) 12 
Nov 42, AAF 353-A Negro Tng, 

B Memo, AAF (DCofAS) for CofS (Attention 
G— 3) , 13 Nov 42, prepared in AFDPU, draft fwd 
to DCofAS 14 Nov, dispatched 17 Nov 42, AAF 
352.01 Est, AAF 353-A Negro Tng. 

81 Immediate Action Ltr, AAF Hq Tech Tng 
Comd, Knollwood Fid, N.C., to CG AAF, 16 Nov 
42, and 1st Ind, Hq AAF to CG AAF TTC, 19 
Nov 42, AAF 353 Cld Tng. 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



for by the time the request arrived, a 
new draft, first circulated on 18 Novem- 
ber, calling for concentration of most 
Negro training at Chanute Field, Illi- 
nois, was in process of preparation by 
the Air Staff's Directorate of Individual 
Training. 65 

On 30 November the Technical 
Training Command forwarded a sub- 
stitute proposal, calling for the use of 
Jefferson Barracks for officer candidate 
and cooks and bakers training only, with 
other training conducted at other 
schools. The proposal, while its writ- 
ten form was in the mails, was given by 
phone to Headquarters AAF, coinciding 
with the completion of the 18 November 
(Chanute Field) draft. Its features 
were incorporated into the 1 8 November 
draft letter. The new proposal author- 
ized the training of (1) officer candidates 
at Jefferson Barracks; (2) enlisted spe- 
cialists at Chanute Field; and (3) the 
continuation of basic training in aviation 
squadrons. Permanent party ASWAAF 
personnel were to be distributed to 
the various units of their arms and serv- 
ices and the unassigned personnel to 
"your various basic training centers in 
exactly the same manner as white per- 
sonnel of this category." 96 This plan, 
too, had to be discarded, for Chanute 
could not handle all specialties. The 
new formal proposal of the Technical 
Training Command as originally writ- 
ten was substituted and approved by the 
Director of Individual Training on 9 



85 Draft Ltr, Dir Individual Tng for CG AAFTTC, 
18 Nov 42, and attached drafts and comments, 
AAF 353-A Negro Tng. 

M Ltr, Dir Individual Tng for CG AAFTTC and 
Incl, Outline of Plan, 1 Dec 42, AAF 353-A Negro 
Tng. 



169 

December. 97 It provided for training 
sites as follows: 

Officer Training 

Jefferson Barracks OCS 

Grand Rapids Weather 

Yale Engineer, armament, 

communications 

Boca Raton Radar (V-i) 

Harvard Statistical 

Enlisted Training 

Boca Raton Radar mechanics 

Chanute Field Machinist, metal work, 

parachute, welding, 
link trainer, 
teletype repair, 
electrical, propeller, 
and instrument 
specialists 

Scott Field Radio 

Jefferson Barracks Cooks and bakers 

Fort Logan Clerks 

Lincoln Airplane mechanics 

Buckley Field Armorers 

Lowry Field Bombsigbt specialists; 

photographers 

One of the problems involved in Ne- 
gro officer training, unstated formally in 
the planning for the separate OCS at 
Jefferson Barracks, was that ground offi- 
cer candidate training for the Air Forces 
was located in luxury hotels at Miami 
Beach, Florida. At the time, this city 
normally permitted no Negroes to re- 
main overnight in its precincts; on its 
behalf, numerous inquiries and protests 
on the possibility of locating Negro 
troops in its hotels came in to the War 
Department. Air Forces agencies had 
given assurances that no Negro troop or 
officer candidate training was planned 



"Ltr, Hq TTC to CG AAF, 30 Nov 42. and 
1st Ind, Hq AAF (Brig Gen L. S. Smith) to 
CGTTC, g Dec 49, AG 353, AAF 353 Cld Tng. 



170 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



for the Miami Beach schools. 98 Though 
the remainder of the Army was training 
Negro officer candidates in established 
schools, the AAFTTC, out of all its orig- 
inal plan, retained only the separate 
Negro OCS. With its enlisted trainees 
scheduled for regular schools, this per- 
sistence in establishing a separate OCS, 
when coupled with the AAF's insistence 
upon concentrating all of its Negro flying 
training at Tuskegee, gave to the Air 
Forces an appearance of willful adher- 
ence to its own plans to keep officer 
training on a separate basis despite the 
policies of all other branches of the 
Army. 

It appeared to Judge Hastie toward 
the end of 1942 that the Air Forces was 
formulating its own policies without ref- 
erence to his office or to general Army 
policies. During the planning for Jef- 
ferson Barracks, Hastie was neither con- 
sulted about nor advised of the discus- 
sions. Throughout this planning he 
was in continuous communication with 
the Air Forces on the training of Ne- 
groes. He had inquired about statisti- 
cal errors made in the Air Staff on suc- 
cess rates in pilot training at Tuskegee 
—errors which, when called to the atten- 
tion of the Air Staff, were then com- 
pounded instead of corrected. He had 
asked about training flight surgeons by 
correspondence, to which the Air Forces 
at first replied that with the great bulk of 
aviation medicine trainees, both Negro 
and white students were using extension 
courses and branch schools. When Has- 
tie asked specifically if Negroes were ex- 
cluded from Randolph Field's medical 
courses, the answer came back: "It is 

99 Ltr, Representative Pat Cannon to ASW Mc- 
Cloy, 16 Jun 42, and subsequent corresp, ASWA 
agi.ai. 



not the policy of the Air Corps to ex- 
clude Negro officers from training at the 
School of Aviation Medicine." He had 
asked about placing washed-out cadets 
in other types of training and about 
cadet training for qualified Negroes in 
meteorology, armament, and engineer- 
ing. 89 But plans for expanding this 
training, including the difficult problem 
of concentrated and separate training 
versus training in established schools, 
had not been mentioned to him in the 
Air Forces communications on these sub- 
jects. 

Late in November, Judge Hastie 
learned from St. Louis newspapers that 
the Air Forces had planned to turn Jef- 
ferson Barracks into an all-Negro train- 
ing center. After hearing about ques- 
tions put to Secretary Stimson at a press 
conference, he asked Secretary Lovett 
toward the end of November if there 
was any truth in the rumors about Jef- 
ferson Barracks. 100 Three weeks later, 
the reply came that "present Air Forces 
plans do not provide for the conversion 
of Jefferson Barracks into an all-Negro 
post" and that "the training program in 
general contemplates assignment of Ne- 
gro personnel for training to installations 
in areas from which procured." Com- 
plaints from St. Louis, the communica- 
tion continued, indicated that "it would 
be wiser not to effect the reported con- 
version." 101 The reply was technically 
correct though no specific mention was 
made of the latest plan to establish an 
officer candidate school and a cooks and 
bakers school at Jefferson Barracks nor 



m See papers in ASWA 291.2, Oct-Nov 42. 
100 Memo, Civ Aide for ASWA, 26 Nov 42, ASWA 
291.2. 

™ Memo, ASWA for Civ Aide, 17 Dec 42, ASWA 
2gi.2. 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



171 



of the decision to utilize established tech- 
nical schools for specialist training. 

On 1 January Jefferson Barracks is- 
sued a press release informing the public 
that a new officer candidate school for 
Negroes would open there on 1 5 Jan- 
uary. On 5 January Hastie informed 
Secretary Stimson and Under Secretary 
Patterson that in the Air Forces "further 
retrogression is now so apparent and 
recent occurrences are so objectionable 
and inexcusable that I have no alterna- 
tive but to resign in protest and to give 
public expression to my views." 102 De- 
spite the "several substantial gains of the 
past two years in the handling of racial 
issues and particular problems of Negro 
military and civilian personnel" and de- 
spite the two secretaries' expressed con- 
fidence that he could do more within the 
War Department than out, Hastie be- 
gan, he did not think that his presence 
was longer useful: 

I have believed that there remain areas 
in which changes of racial policy should be 
made but will not be made in response to 
advocacy within the Department but only 
as a result of strong and manifest public 
opinion. I have believed that some of these 
changes involve questions of the sincerity 
and depth of our devotion to the basic is- 
sues of this war and thus have an important 
bearing, both on the fighting spirit of our 
own people and upon our ability as a na- 
tion to maintain leadership in the struggle 
for a free world." 103 

So long as he remained in the War De- 
partment he could not express himself 
freely and publicly on these matters. 
Therefore, he was submitting a formal 



142 Memo, Civ Aide for SW through USW, 5 
Jan 43, ASW 291.2 NT-Civ Aide. 
1Ki Ibid. 



resignation separately to take effect on 
31 January. 104 

Except for a statment to the press is- 
sued on 16 January in which, to quiet 
growing rumors, he announced that he 
had submitted his resignation and that 
he had asked his two assistants, Louis 
Lautier and Truman K. Gibson, Jr., to 
stay at their posts, Hastie refrained from 
any public statement during the remain- 
der of the month. He had, however, 
outlined in detail his objections to the 
course of Air Forces policy in his mem- 
orandum to the secretaries. He includ- 
ed a sharp denunciation of misleading 
information given him by the Air Forces 
as well as criticisms of its policies: 

In establishing a separate Officer 
Candidate School for Negroes at Jefferson 
Barracks the Air Forces are deliberately re- 
jecting the general practice of unsegregated 
Officer Candidate Schools which has proved 
so eminently successful throughout the 
Army and which has been so hopeful an 
augury. I did not know that such a school 
was contemplated until the matter appeared 
a few days ago in an Army press release. 
Worse, still, I was given misleading infor- 
mation by the Air Forces at a time when the 
plan must have been well advanced. . . . 
In such circumstances the failure of the 
Air Forces, after written request, to advise 
this office candidly and fully of a plan so 
soon to be publicly announced cannot be 
considered an excusable inadvertence. 105 

This latest development had to be 
placed in its proper setting, Hastie con- 
tinued. He recalled that "the policy 
of using Negro personnel in the Air 
Forces at all was imposed upon a Com- 
mand, reluctant from the outset. Re- 
sistance, bred of that reluctance has been 

101 Memo, Civ Aide for SW through USW, 6 Jan 
43, ASW agi.a NT-Civ Aide. 

106 Memo, Civ Aide for SW through USW, 5 
Jan 43, ASW 291.2 NT-Civ Aide. 



172 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



encountered repeatedly." He went on 
to cite the Air Forces' establishment of 
aviation squadrons; its establishment of 
a separate clerical school; its refusal to 
train and use qualified service pilots, 
weather officer applicants, and other offi- 
cer specialists which, in national recruit- 
ing campaigns, it had said it needed 
badly; the inadequacy of its training for 
Negro flight surgeons; its refusal to use 
Negroes in positions of responsibility at 
Tuskegee; and its refusal to continue 
technical training in its established 
schools in the pattern begun at Chanute 
Field where "the results were excellent." 
Moreover, Hastie asserted, the Air 
Forces was failing to produce results 
with its methods. While efforts were 
being made to set up segregated techni- 
cal training at Tuskegee or elsewhere, 
"successive classes of pilots were being 
trained, but no supporting technical 
schooling of ground crew members was 
in progress. Thus even the segregated 
system has gotten badly out of balance 
in the effort to accomplish its extension. 
The prospect is that in 1943 Negro pilots 
will be ready before and faster than ade- 
quate members of trained ground crews 
are available." The situation at Tuske- 
gee, where separate messes, quarters, and 
washrooms were maintained, Hastie con- 
cluded, had reached the point where it 
might "jeopardize the entire future of 
the Negro in combat aviation. Men 
cannot be humiliated over a long period 
of time without a shattering of morale 
and a destroying of combat efficiency. 
. . . If the group of white officers at 
Tuskegee insist upon this— and I have no 
evidence that they do— they are psycho- 
logically unsuited to train Negroes for 
combat. If they do not so insist, the 
racial attitude of the local commander 



or of higher authority is all the more 
apparent." 106 

Hastie 's memorandum was forwarded 
to the Air Staff, where inquiries began. 107 
General Stratemeyer called a halt to the 
preparations for the new school, telling 
a representative of Individual Training: 

I don't want any colored school any place 
to be conducted as a segregated school. 
With reference to colored Officer Candi- 
dates at Miami Beach, I want them treated 
just like white Officer Candidates. They 
will go to the same classes, to the same 
drills, and eat in mess halls the same as the 
whites. If there are any questions, tell 
General Smith to call me. 108 

General Stratemeyer then had the 
Hastie paper analyzed for Assistant Sec- 
retary McCloy. Judge Hastie was cor- 
rect about aviation squadrons, the Air 
Staff said, but he had overlooked the 
fact that the majority of Negroes with 
low general classification scores had to 
be employed somewhere. On every- 
thing else, the Staff declared, Hastie was 
in substantial error. His information 
about the establishment of a segregated 
officer candidate school at Jefferson Bar- 
racks "had no basis in fact." A plan had 
been prepared "in an operating division 
of Headquarters, Army Air Forces but it 
had neither been referred to nor ap- 
proved by the Chief of the Air Staff. 
Negroes with sufficiently high general 
classification and mechanical aptitude 

106 Ibid. 

1OT R8cRS, Dir Pers to Dir Individual Tng, 5 Jan 
43, and Comment 2, Dir Individual Tng to Dir 
Pers, attention Mil Pers Div, 9 Jan 43. Both in 
AAF 353-A Negro Tng. 

108 Immediate Action Ltr, Hq AAF (Brig Gen 
L. S. Smith, Dir Individual Tng) to CG TTC, 
Knollwood Field, N.C., 10 Jan 43, AAF 353-A 
Negro Tng. Quotation marks are in the original, 
a transcript of General Stratemeyer's telephone 
conversation forwarded to Knollwood. 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



173 



scores were being used as noncommis- 
sioned officers or were being sent to 
officer candidate schools and to training 
courses "throughout the school system of 
the Technical Training Command." 
The separate clerical school at Atlanta 
University was being conducted by the 
Services of Supply. As for Tuskegee, 
the location of the school there had been 
urged by the officials of the Tuskegee 
Institute and instead of training being 
harmed there, both Brig. Gen Benja- 
min O. Davis and the Commanding Gen- 
eral, Third Air Force, had found the 
fighter squadron there to be in a "su- 
perior state of training." It was "now 
ready to be committed to combat." 
Moreover, the Air Staff's analysis con- 
tinued, directives would be issued to 
insure compliance with War Depart- 
ment policies on racial discrimination in 
the matter of separate messing and toilet 
facilities for Negro and white officers, 
though the commanding officer at Tus- 
kegee would be within regulations if he 
established a regimental mess for the 
new 333d Fighter Group "providing no 
racial restrictions were placed on officer 
messing facilities established for other 
officer personnel." The policy of plac- 
ing Negro officers in posts of responsibil- 
ity at Tuskegee had not changed though 
"implementation . . . will depend upon 
the best judgment of the responsible 
commander." Sufficient weather, arma- 
ment, communication, engineering, and 
administrative officers to care for Negro 
units were being trained, but "excessive 
numbers of Negro specialists would be 
wasteful and inadvisable," the Air Forces 
added, remarking that War Department 
assignment policies of Negro officers 
which would limit the usefulness of ad- 
ditional specialists were still in force. 



Service pilots would be employed as 
needed within the limits of War De- 
partment policies on the assignment of 
Negro officers, and directives insuring 
the training of flight surgeons in resident 
student status had been issued. 109 

Hastie observed that perhaps General 
Stratemeyer was correct about the new 
school— "I hope, of course, that no such 
project has been or is going to be inau- 
gurated," he said— but, in addition to the 
press release, "this office checked infor- 
mally with the Air Forces Technical 
Training Command and received verbal 
confirmation from that office." More- 
over, General Stratemeyer's statement 
did not clearly say whether "the Air 
Forces are not going to have a segregated 
Officer Candidate School or merely that 
the Chief of Air Staff had not approved 
the proposal at the time my memoran- 
dum was written." Hastie declared that 
he doubted that the four or five thousand 
Negroes who, according to General 
Stratemeyer's figures on test scores, had 
the required aptitude for technical train- 
ing, were receiving it, that badly needed 
weather officers could not work anywhere 
"except at the Tuskegee Base or with a 
Negro unit in the field," and that the 
judgment of the Air Staff on what was 
happening at Tuskegee could be recon- 
ciled with conclusions "based on my own 
observations and on the views of persons 
living and working there every day." 
To him, this analysis was only one more 
example of the Air Forces' lack of candor 
in facing the issue of its use of Negro 
troops. 110 

108 Memo. CofAS tor ASW, 12 Jan 43, ASW 
291.2 NT— Civ Aide. Draft prepared by Col John 
H. McCormick, then assistant A-i and Air Forces 
representative on the Advisory Committee. 

110 Memo, Civ Aide for ASW, 19 Jan 43, ASW 
291.2 NT-Civ Aide. 



174 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Secretary Stimson accepted Hastie's 
resignation on 29 January. 111 As one of 
his last official acts in the War Depart- 
ment, Hastie forwarded to Assistant Sec- 
retary McCloy the next day a memoran- 
dum on two additional issues "which 
seem to be of immediate importance": 
the placement and promotion of Negro 
officers, including provisions for the re- 
moval of excess officers from the all- 
Negro units since "field and company 
officers tend to deteriorate when they 
seem to be in a blind alley"; and the 
overseas use of Negro combat organiza- 
tions, especially those which had been in 
training for long periods of time. 112 
Both of these problems were to engage 
the attention of the War Department for 
many months to come. 

Gibson and the Aide's Office 

A search for a successor to Hastie was 
already under way. The names of Ne- 
gro college presidents, federal and state 
government officials, and, occasionally, 
of unknown but favored former students 
of distinguished law professors— some- 
times solicited by Assistant Secretary Mc- 
Cloy and sometimes offered by interested 
persons outside the Department— were 
suggested during January 1943. 113 The 
Negro press, lauding Hastie for his 
stand, indulged in its own predictions. 
The Associated Negro Press reported 
that "the consensus of opinion as ex- 
pressed freely and frankly is that he did 
the right thing in stepping out of a posi- 



111 Ltr, SW to Hastie, 29 Jan 43, ASW 291.2 NT- 
Civ Aide. 

112 Memo, Civ Aide for ASW, 30 Jan 43, ASW 
291.2 NT-Civ Aide. 

113 See ASW 291.2 Files, 1943. 



tion that was becoming untenable." 114 
Typical of editorial opinion was the 
New Orleans Louisiana Weekly's asser- 
tion that Hastie's resignation was 

. . . a tribute to the new type of leadership 
that is coming to the forefront for the 
Negro masses. . . . He performed admirably 
under the difficulties. . . . He must indeed 
have been a patient man to have been 
pushed around and given the "brush off" 
by the Army "swivel chair corps" who ap- 
parently care little for the Negro in the 
Army other than as a laborer. However, 
there is a limit to every man's patience, even 
Judge Hastie's. We think by his action he 
rises in stature and becomes one of our 
living heroes and leaders whom Pearl Buck 
says we so desperately need. 115 

In the meantime, the work of the 
Civilian Aide's office continued with 
Hastie's assistant, Truman K. Gibson, 
Jr., designated Acting Civilian Aide on 
5 February, 118 pending appointment of a 
successor to Hastie. 

Hastie, in his resignation statement, 
had indicated that, instead of a consistent 
policy leading to the useful employment 
of Negro troops, un-co-ordinated and 
often divergent patterns within the Ar- 
my were leading to supportable charges 
of a lack of direction in the utilization of 
Negroes and a potential waste of man- 
power. Here was a concrete matter 



U4 ANP dispatch, headed "War Department 
Wasted Talents," Atlanta Daily World, 29 Jan 43. 

U5 Editorial, "Judge Hastie's Resignation," Loui- 
siana Weekly, January 30, 1943. 

™ Memo, ExO to ASW for Gen Surles (BPR) , 
4 Feb 43; Memo, SW for Truman K. Gibson, 5 
Feb 43. Both in ASW 291.2 NT-Civ Aide. The 
directive that matters of policy pertaining to Ne- 
groes be referred to the Civilian Aide's office for 
comment or concurrence was reissued with Gib- 
son's name substituted for Hastie's. WD Memo, 
W600-13-43, 13 Feb 43, Policies Pertaining to 
Negroes, AG 291.21 (2-13-43) OB-C-MB-FH. 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



175 



upon which action could be taken on its 
practical merits rather than on the ethi- 
cal grounds from which many of the 
Hastie proposals, despite their practical 
aspects, had proceeded. The Advisory 
Committee, which had previously held 
few meetings, now came to vigorous life. 
As already noted, this committee had 
been set up to "evaluate racial incidents, 
proposed social reforms, and questions 
involving the training and use of ne- 
groes." 117 How closely the three went 
together was now clearer than before. 
The Advisory Committee now realized 
more fully that its was a continuing prob- 
lem of evaluation and consideration of 
multitudinous problems going beyond 
the technicalities of the distribution of 
Negroes in the troop basis. Truman 
Gibson, in discussions with Secretary Mc- 
Cloy, impressed upon him that, with the 
serial presentation of Hastie's objections 
in the press 118 and with the steady wors- 
ening of Negro troop problems, imme- 
diate steps to solve the major questions 
which Hastie had called to the secre- 
taries' attention should be taken and the 
public should be so informed. 119 

Hastie's resignation itself had been 
followed by certain immediate changes, 
especially in the Air Forces, which qui- 
etly dropped its Jefferson Barracks plan, 
promoted the commander at Tuskegee 
and replaced him, made plans to remove 
the new tactical group from Tuskegee, 
and ordered flight surgeon trainees to 



U7 Memo, G-i for CofS, 18 Jul 42, AG 334 Ad- 
visory Com on Negro Trp Policies (18 Jul 42) (1) . 

138 Hastie's statements to the press were later 
developed into a pamphlet, On Clipped Wings: 
The Story of Jim Crow in the Army Air Corps (New 
York: NAACP, 1943) , 26 pp. 

u ' Memo, Gibson for ASW, 3 Feb 43, ASW agi.2 
NTC. 



school at Randolph Field. Just before 
Hastie's resignation took effect, the Air 
Forces announced publicly that it was 
expanding its training program for com- 
bat fliers and supporting services and 
that Negroes were being trained 
"throughout virtually the entire Tech- 
nical Training Command of the Air 
Forces as well as at the Air Forces Offi- 
cers' Training School at Miami." 120 
After the first of February, when Hastie 
announced publicly that Air Forces poli- 
cies had been the chief cause of his resig- 
nation, the Air Forces indicated that it 
had no intention of making a further 
reply, since it believed that it had com- 
plied fully with the Secretary of War's 
instructions on Negro troop policies. 121 
In the weeks following Hastie's de- 
parture, Gibson presented serially, in 
conferences and memoranda, separate 
analyses of many of the problems re- 
maining unsolved. The Civilian Aide's 
main channel of action now shifted def- 
initely from Under Secretary Patterson's 
office to Assistant Secretary McCloy's, 
with Gibson working closely with 
Charles Poletti, ex-lieutenant governor 
of New York and, at the time, a special 
assistant to the Secretary, and, later, with 
Col. William P. Scobey and Lt. Col. 
Harrison A. Gerhardt, executives to the 
Assistant Secretary. While he pursued 
the same objectives as Hastie, Gibson 
generally approached his problems sin- 
gly, presenting alternatives for action 
phrased in terms of their probable effect 
upon the Army, the public (white and 



120 Press Release, Bureau of Public Relations, 
28 Jan 43, "Army to Expand Its Program for 
Training Negro Fliers." 

121 Rpt of AAF Representative, (Gen Hanley) , 
Min Gen Council, 1 Feb 43. 



176 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Negro), and the developing military sit- 
uation. 122 

To McCloy and to Poletti, Gibson 
again outlined the problems of both his 
office and of its relations with the Ad- 
visory Committee, enclosing for Poletti 
a copy of the Hastie Survey containing 
marginal notes on what had been done 
and what remained to be accomplished 
in the Hastie program. 123 To the new 
secretary of the committee, Col. Joseph 
S. Leonard, formerly commander of the 
366th Infantry at Fort Devens, he offered 
the files of his office so that the commit- 
tee might become more familiar with 
the main problems with which the Civil- 
ian Aide had been faced. Both Gibson 
and the Advisory Committee began to 
give closer attention to the help that they 
might get from Brig. Gen. Frederick H. 
Osborn and his Special Service Division 
in the area of the morale of Negro troops. 
To General Osborn, Gibson outlined 
the Air Forces problem for use in a 
conference to be held with Judge Pat- 
terson. 124 

122 Examples: Memos, Gibson for Poletti and 
Gibson for ASW, 20 Feb 43, on command in the 
366th Infantry; Memo, Gibson for ASW, 4 Mar 43, 
on ambiguous policy on assignment and promo- 
tion of Negro officers; Memo, Gibson for Poletti, 
5 Mar 43, on use of Negroes in military government 
plans; Memo, Gibson for Poletti, 16 Mar 43, on 
Liberia Task Force problems; Memo, Gibson for 
Poletti, 18 Mar 43, on adequacy of investigation of 
problems in 76th CA; Memo, Gibson for Poletti, 
22 Mar 43, on Air Forces training program; Memo, 
Gibson for Poletti, 23 Mar 43, on revised policy on 
promotion of Negro officers. All in ASW 291.2 NT 
and ASW 291.2 NT-Gen, 1943. During much of 
this period, Assistant Secretary McCloy was out of 
the country; this, in part, accounted for the high 
proportion of items presented to Poletti rather than 
directly to the Assistant Secretary. 

133 Memo, Gibson for ASW, 3 Feb 43, and 
Memos (2) , Gibson for Poletti, 9 Feb 43. All in 
ASW 291.2 NTC. 

124 Memo, Gibson for Osborn, 11 Mar 43, SPSP 
291.21. 



This conference was an outgrowth of 
one of the many inquiries coming into 
the War Department after Hastie's res- 
ignation. After one of these, involving 
a meeting of Under Secretary Patterson, 
Assistant Secretary Lovett, and General 
Stratemeyer with Wilbur LaRoe and a 
delegation from the Washington Feder- 
ation of Churches, Judge Patterson, As- 
sistant Secretary Lovett, Howard Peter- 
sen, and General Osborn met to consider 
developments within the Air Forces. 
One result was an agreement that Air 
Forces— Negro relations should be han- 
dled by the Advisory Committee and 
that Patterson would thereafter refer 
questions on these relations to the com- 
mittee. 125 This agreement ended the 
Under Secretary's formal concern with 
Negro troop problems. Another result 
was that, as a consequence of Patterson's 
expression of dissatisfaction with the 
progress and numbers of Negro person- 
nel which the Air Forces was training, 
Secretary Lovett and General Strate- 
meyer discussed the entire situation, sug- 
gesting that the Air Forces investigate 
and take action to: 

1. Make certain that some Negroes were 
assigned to the college training program in 
northern colleges where CPT training was 
being given, even at the expense of filling 
quotas set for Tuskegee. 

2. Investigate and increase the activities 
in which Negro pilots might participate, 
paying particular attention to securing all 
possible candidates for service pilot ratings, 
assigning them to liaison units which could 
work with Negro ground units. 

3. Make an attempt to train pilots and 
navigators as transport crews which could 
be assigned to Roberts Field in Liberia 
"for the purpose of flying cargo or ferrying 



125 Memo, Osborn for Gen Joe N. Dalton, 11 Mar 
43, SSB 291.21 (9-27-41) (1). 



PROPOSALS AND COUNTERPROPOSALS 



177 



airplanes forward to combat theaters from 
that installation. It is understood that there 
is a colored U.S. citizen in Canada who has 
piloted bombers across the North Atlantic 
four or five times and who is available for, 
and who has requested assignment to the 
Army Air Forces. Investigate this through 
A-i, and see if his services cannot be secured 
for the purpose of either bringing his entire 
crew with him to operate for the Air Trans- 
port Command in Liberia or to train a 
colored crew which can be used by the Air 
Transport Command from Roberts Field." 

4. Investigate and prepare plans to start 
the training of additional colored ground 
personnel and have them on hand to work 
with and assist in the training of a medium 
or light bombardment group "which we 
must necessarily activate and organize if 
and when our present experiment with the 
fighter group is successful." 126 

While most of these proposals were 
not carried out, planning for the in- 
creased use of Negroes did begin within 
the Air Forces and a medium bombard- 
ment group did materialize. Moreover, 
co-operation between the Air Forces 
headquarters and the Civilian Aide's of- 
fice gradually improved. After a visit to 
Tuskegee in April, Gibson informed Sec- 
retary Lovett that he had been greatly 
impressed by "the very able and con- 
scientious manner in which Lieutenant 
Colonel Noel Parrish, the Commanding 
Officer, has attacked the many difficult 
problems with which he has been con- 
fronted. There has been a decided up- 
swing in the morale of the Negro officers 
and men stationed there." Though 
many of the criticisms of Tuskegee were 
justifiable, he continued, "the training 
program has been conducted in a fair 
and impartial manner. For this, the 

^R&RS, Stratemeyer to ACofAS G-g, copy to 
Arnold, Lovett, Dir Individual Tng, A-i, 11 Mar 
43, copy in ASWA 291.21, action proposals and rec- 
ommendations in AAF 353-A, Negro Tng. 



Air Forces is deserving of credit and has 
received favorable comment even from 
some of the most vocal critics of the 
whole program." He regretted that 
previous disagreements of his office with 
various Air Forces policies had resulted 
in "the development of an attitude that 
a feeling of hostility exists" preventing 
"the free discussion of possible solutions 
for what is admittedly a troublesome and 
difficult problem" and preventing "ade- 
quate discussions on the adoption of 
some continuing plan for the use of Ne- 
groes in the Army Air Forces." He 
pointed out the dangers of adherence to 
unchanging formulas and offered the fa- 
cilities of his office for planning beyond 
the needs of the fighter units then under 
way. 127 Secretary Lovett noted on the 
memorandum: "Copy given to Col. Mc- 
Cormick, Personnel. He is to see Gib- 
son & get his cooperation on matters 
wherever possible before any step is 
taken." 

While Gibson's attempts to obtain a 
closer working relationship between his 
office, the Advisory Committee, and the 
offices of the two assistant secretaries did 
not always meet with unalloyed success, 
events and a greater concern on the part 
of participants to deal adequately with 
them produced a better machinery for 
action than had been. Gibson, though 
he was never given membership on the 
committee, gained early an advantage 
closed to Hastie: after March, upon Sec- 
retary McCloy's recommendation, he at- 
tended Advisory Committee meetings 
regularly. 128 Although the committee 
had no staff other than its secretary and 

121 Memo, Gibson for ASWA, 1 May 43, ASWA 
291.2. 

188 Min of Mtg of Advisory Com, Col J. S. 
Leonard, 22 Mar 43, ASW 291.2 NTC. 



178 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



no other full-time member, its meetings 
provided a forum and clearing house 
where the chiefs of policy-making 
branches and the representatives of the 
major commands of the Army could com- 
pare notes and gain perspective on ques- 
tions affecting the employment of Negro 
troops. The Civilian Aide was therefore 
able to present his views on questions 
as they arose. Though the committee 
often temporized and deferred action, 
when a major proposal was agreed upon 
its movement through the staff divisions 
was expedited by familiarity with the 
proposal gained in committee meetings. 
With the Advisory Committee and the 
Civilian Aide working more closely than 
formerly, the War Department began to 
acquire a more generally agreed upon 
approach to Negro troop policies, though 
it still lacked a central co-ordinating 
body for the collection, evaluation, and 
dissemination of information upon and 
decisions made about proposals and 
counterproposals affecting these policies. 



Gibson held his position as acting aide 
until 21 September 1943, when he was 
made permanent Civilian Aide. 129 Be- 
tween February and September many of 
the problems brought to the attention 
of the War Department by Hastie came 
to a head. A number of modifications 
in policy and practice occurred, for 
many of the difficulties foreseen by 
Hastie and the staff sections in 1941 and 
1942 came to full growth by the spring 
of 1943. With these, Gibson, McCloy, 
and the Advisory Committee had to deal. 
But the pattern of the organization and 
employment of Negro troops had so set 
by 1943 that many situations could only 
be modified and not appreciably altered. 
In the meantime, the course of policies 
and problems in the field, met at their 
high points by reactions and new policies 
in the War Department, continued to 
develop. 



126 Memo, ASW for Admin Asst (John W. 
Martyn) , 21 Sep 43, ASW 291.2 NT-Civ Aide. 



CHAPTER VII 

Officers for Negro Troops 



The War Department from the begin- 
ning of mobilization recognized that the 
effectiveness of troops and troop units 
depended in large measure on the qual- 
ity of their leadership. Negro units, in 
the quest for competent leadership, had 
to compete with a general need for offi- 
cers that grew with great rapidity in the 
expanding Army. As the size of the 
Army increased, the ratio of officers to 
men increased even more rapidly. New 
and larger headquarters and units, new 
administrative, technical, and supervi- 
sory positions, and new planning and 
control functions generally absorbed 
larger proportions of officers than en- 
listed men. At the same time the pool 
of available officer material shrank with 
greater rapidity than the pool of avail- 
able manpower. Too often the men in 
demand for administrative, control, and 
technical duties were likely to be the 
type of men so urgently needed for troop 
leadership in units. In any event, win- 
nowing out the potential leaders from 
millions of anonymous men was not an 
easy task. 

The War Department had also recog- 
nized in its prewar planning that Negro 
units needed more officers than corre- 
sponding white units. The plan of 1937 
had visualized the provision of 50 per- 
cent more officers for Negro units than 
tables of organization (T/O's) called 
for. The extra officers were expected to 



provide the needed counterbalance to 
the lack of military background and ci- 
vilian educational and vocational experi- 
ence which handicapped so many Negro 
soldiers. Extra officers would make pos- 
sible closer supervision and greater indi- 
vidual attention, thereby shortening the 
time needed to prepare a unit for com- 
bat. The Army discovered, not long 
after it began to grow, that the 50 per- 
cent overstrength policy, however useful 
it might be, was not going to work. 
There simply were not enough officers to 
go around. Negro units, like all other 
units, were going to be lucky if they re- 
ceived even their proper table of organi- 
zation allotments. In the summer of 
1942, when there was a serious general 
shortage of officers, some Negro units 
had one officer only and in some cases 
one officer was commanding two or more 
units. 1 In the general shortage, no mat- 
ter what policies were laid down on the 
desirability of excellent officers with, as 
the Deputy Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Jo- 
seph T. McNarney phrased it, "common 
sense and appreciation of the racial ques- 
tions which confront the Army," 2 Negro 
units received too few officers for the 



1 For examples, see Memo, G-i for CG SOS, 11 
Jun 42, AG 210.31 (2-14-42) (3) ; Memo, G-i for 
CG AGF, AGF 320.2; and Ltr, Hq IV Army 
Corps OTIG, Cp Beauregard, La., to TIG, 15 
Jun 42. All in AGF 3331/31 IV Army Corps. 

2 Remarks of General McNarney in the General 
Council, 18 Aug 42. 



180 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



best results and too few officers who met 
the desired requirements for service with 
them. This last was especially true 
since it was difficult to describe with 
exactness the kind of officer best fitted 
for service with Negro troops in terms 
which did not coincide with the defini- 
tion of a good officer for any situation. 

Initial Procurement Policies 

When mobilization began in 1940 the 
Army had certain definite, if vaguely 
expressed, notions of what it wanted in 
the way of leadership for Negro troops. 
World War I and earlier testimony had 
indicated that white officers were prefer- 
able to Negro officers. The white offi- 
cers chosen should have some acquain- 
tance with Negroes; therefore it was of- 
ten assumed that, since few individuals 
from other parts of the country had come 
into frequent contact with Negroes, they 
should be Southerners. It was assumed, 
too, that Negro officers would have to be 
used, but that their numbers should be 
kept to a minimum. Since most com- 
mentators believed that few Negroes 
possessed potential combat leadership 
abilities, they held that Negro officers 
should be assigned primarily to overhead 
and service units. Further refinements 
of qualifications ivere not prescribed for 
either Negro or for white officers with 
Negro troops. The subtler forms of cul- 
tural and psychological qualifications, 
often speculated upon by writers and 
students of the question, were not offi- 
cially endorsed by the War Department. 
The provision of officers for Negro units 
therefore revolved, from the beginning, 
about two conflicting ideas: that the best 
officers for Negro units should be white 
and that sufficient Negro officers must 



be supplied to satisfy the Negro public 
and enlisted men that race was not a 
barrier to advancement of Negro men in 
a wartime army. 

A considered statement of the prob- 
lem from the point of view of a World 
War I commander was that of Col. Mal- 
vern-Hill Barnum, a brigade com- 
mander of the 92d Division. Colonel 
Barnum thought that while most Ne- 
groes, because of educational deficien- 
cies, would have to be employed in line 
of communications work, combatant 
units should be organized in the infan- 
try, cavalry, and artillery and these units 
should be officered by Negroes to the ex- 
tent to which competent men could be 
found. He wrote: 

The colored race in our Country is mak- 
ing great advances in education and in com- 
mercial and professional channels. It would 
not be in accordance with the policy of our 
Country to close to the colored man the 
door of opportunity to become officers, and 
to rise as high as their merit will permit. . . . 

The greatest difficulty to be overcome [in 
World War I officer training] was the 
natural lack of aggressiveness on the part of 
the colored man. It could not for a moment 
be expected that a race which had for two 
hundred years, or more, been kept in a 
subordinate position would suddenly mani- 
fest aggressiveness such as was required in 
the desperate fighting which occurred dur- 
ing the last year or two of this war. 

Some may say that colored men are not 
competent to become officers of the Army. 
This statement is entirely too sweeping, for 
there is no doubt but that we had many 
colored officers who were thoroughly com- 
petent, the fact that we had a good many 
incompetent ones should not be allowed to 
give rise to the feeling that all were in- 
competent. 3 



3 Ltr, Col Malvern-Hill Barnum to Col Allen J. 
Greer, 19 Apr 19, AWC-127-21. 



OFFICERS FOR NEGRO TROOPS 



181 



The point o£ view taken by Colonel 
Barnum was approximately the one that 
governed the provision of officers to Ne- 
gro units in World War II, although the 
experience of World War I, supported 
by extracts of testimony, was generally 
summed up in statements like "It is 
generally conceded that Negro officers 
serving in the American Expeditionary 
Force during the World War were fail- 
ures as combat officers." 4 

The War Department under policies 
in effect in the summer of 1940 planned 
initially to provide white officers for all 
units which were not Reserve or Na- 
tional Guard. Additional units to 
which Negro officers could be assigned 
were to be designated from time to time 
as Negro officers became available from 
the officer candidate schools. Negro 
chaplains could be used with any Negro 
unit and medical officers could be as- 
signed to designated units. Warrant of- 
ficers in Negro units were to be Negroes. 
Negroes were to command other Ne- 
groes only. 

None of these original policy rulings 
was strictly held to. General Davis, for 
example, was assigned in 1941 to com- 
mand the 4th Cavalry Brigade, which 
contained the two Negro cavalry regi- 
ments. Both regiments, because they 
were Regular Army units, had an all- 
white complement of officers. The 25th 
Infantry, early in 1942, was assigned to 
the 93d Division. The assignment of 
Negro junior officers to this Regular 
regiment was authorized to keep the unit 
parallel in composition to the other reg- 
iments of the division. 5 Variant poli- 

' Memo, G-3 for CofS, 5 Jun 40, AG 291.21 
(5-14-40) . 

5 Memo, G-3 for CofS, 4 Feb 42, approved by 
SW, 11 Feb 42, G-3 645-444, 



cies, as in the case of warrant officers, de- 
veloped out of the original ones as the 
supply of available officers and the num- 
bers and types of Negro units changed. 
Despite the announced policy on war- 
rant officers, repeated requests for clari- 
fication were made. Could Negro war- 
rant officers be appointed to units with 
all white officers? All Negro officers? 
White and Negro officers? 6 The War 
Department sought to clarify the matter 
by reminding assignment agencies that 
all warrant officers authorized for Negro 
units should be Negroes. 7 Alternative 
requests continued to come in, one of 
them from a tank battalion that wanted 
white warrant officers for its existing 
vacancies and an authorization for nine 
additional white warrant officers. 8 
Ground Forces refused to consider the 
request because other Negro tank bat- 
talions would want the same arrange- 
ment; besides, it violated current War 
Department policy that requirements 
for Negro and white units should be 
exactly alike. 9 "If we ever placed a note 
on a T/O differentiating in any way 
between white and colored/' wrote an 
officer well indoctrinated in War Depart- 
ment policies, "we should all go to 
Hell." 10 Nevertheless, a compromise 
was arranged which allowed second lieu- 
tenants to be assigned to warrant officer 
vacancies "where it is definitely deter- 
mined that negro warrant officers of 

"Memo, TAG for Dir Mil Tng SOS, 14 Jul 42, 
AG 200.3/92 (WO) . 

7 WD Memo W610-1-42, 17 Aug 42, AG 220.S 
WO (7-26-42) (OB-A-PS) . 

8 Ltr, CO 758th Tk Bn to CG TDC, 28 Jan 43, 
app. CGTDC in 3d Ind, 210 GNTDA, dated 30 
Jun 43, and forwarded by CG Armd Comd without 
comment, AGF 210/28 WO. 

"Ibid., 5 th Ind, Hq AGF. 

10 AGF M/S, RQT to Ground G-i, 11 Jul 43, 
AGF 210/28 WO. 



182 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



appropriate qualifications" are not avail- 
able. In this event, white second lieu- 
tenants were to be assigned to units 
having all white officers and Negro sec- 
ond lieutenants to units with Negro jun- 
ior officers. 11 Many Negro units already 
had and continued to retain white war- 
rant officers despite the official ruling in 
the matter. 

White Officers and Their 
Leadership Dilemma 

From the beginning the majority of 
all officers with Negro units were white. 
This situation was not only in accordance 
with the long established Army belief 
that white officers possessed better lead- 
ership qualifications than Negroes and 
that they were preferred by Negro troops 
but was also a result of the initial short- 
age of Negro officers. In the absence of 
available Negro officers, even in the units 
for which they were authorized, white 
officers had to be used. Initially, provid- 
ing officer leadership for Negro troops 
was primarily a problem of selecting 
white officers who were both qualified 
for and compatible with their assign- 
ments. 

The presence of white officers was ac- 
cepted as natural by a great many Negro 
troops. Such acceptance did not pre- 
vent the development of strained rela- 
tionships having their roots in racial 
attitudes. The fine line between good 
and poor officer-enlisted men relations, 
a line drawn finer in a rapidly expanding 
wartime Army by the presence of mili- 



11 ist lnd, Hq AGF to CG Second Army, 8 May 
43, AGF 210 CWO; Ltr, TAG to CG's Major 
Comds, Armies, Corps, Defense Comds, Sv Comds, 
RScSC, Overseas Theaters, and Base Comds, 6 Sep 
43, AG 210.31 WO (10 Aug 43) PO-A-A. 



tarily inexperienced officers as well as un- 
trained enlisted men accustomed to the 
relatively unrestricted civilian mode of 
living, buckled dangerously when sol- 
diers could attribute any and every un- 
pleasant task or disappointment to a 
possible racially-based antipathy on the 
part of their commanders. For, while 
many Negro enlisted men accepted the 
presence of white officers as natural and 
inevitable, they were not at all certain, 
in the face of the many signs to the con- 
trary, that their white officers accepted 
the presence of Negro enlisted men in 
the Army as either natural, inevitable, or 
even desirable. 

Many commanders recognized that the 
major problem of white officers serving 
with Negro troops was one of attitude as 
much as positive professional qualifica- 
tions. "Negro troops are not a prob- 
lem," one battalion commander told an 
assembly of officers. "The minute you 
make them a Problem you take away 
their self-respect and self-confidence. 
They must be handled with the right 
attitude of mind and with a spirit of fair 
play. They have a rich heritage and a 
historic background and have the right 
to expect treatment as human beings 
and comrades in the cause for which we 
are fighting." 12 The hurdles to be over- 
come by the white officer in gaining the 
confidence of his Negro enlisted men 
were many. He had to watch his lan- 
guage as well as his actions to avoid the 
wholesale— and, sometimes, apparently 
sudden— alienation of an entire com- 
mand. "The use of profane language 
shows ill-breeding, conduct unbecoming 

12 Remarks of Lt Col John R. Harris, QMC, CO 
243d QM Bn, to AH Offs Assigned to Negro Trps 
in the Ft. Lewis Area, 16 Sep 42, AGF 322.999/ 

299I/2- 



OFFICERS FOR NEGRO TROOPS 



183 



an officer and a gentleman," the same 
commander cautioned his audience. 
"The word 'Nigger' or any abusive lan- 
guage or any reference tending to lower 
the standards of a soldier is Out." 13 

At the conclusion of a letter describing 
his techniques of leadership, the com- 
mander of an antiaircraft regiment al- 
ready overseas summarized his findings 
with a sense of discovery: 

It is funny. I have been thinking over 
what is in this letter and it applies, all of 
it, to white troops as well as colored. I 
guess it is merely the details that count. 
Nevertheless, I am sincere in my admiration 
for these troops and I say that with full 
knowledge, that if I get a chance to take 
them into battle my own life and all that 
1 have to live for will depend on them. I 
am supremely confident of their ability. 
There is not one iota of doubt in my mind 
that you people in Washington are building 
a mountain out of a molehill when you 
speak of "The Negro Problem in the 
Army." My God, these men are human and 
only waiting to be led. They are actually 
eager to do what is right. That sounds as 
though I am a negrophile whereas 1 am 
not. I am only a realist wanting to see the 
army make full use of this vast reservoir of 
man power. It must be used. 14 

Men who in all their lives had never 
considered it necessary, in their relation 
with Negroes, to practice the ordinary 
courtesies in human relations which 
make the civilized life of complex soci- 
eties tolerable to its individual members 
were not always able to reach suddenly 
the conclusion that "these men are hu- 
man" and only waiting, like other men, 
to be led. That the Army had a genu- 



13 Ibid. 

"Personal Ltr, CO 99th CA (AA) Regt, to "an 
officer of WD," 2 Feb 43, circulated in hectograph 
form by Lt Col Marshall S. Carter in Memo, OPD, 
8 Feb 43, OPD 322.97. 



ine need of the manpower which Ne- 
groes represented posed a difficult prob- 
lem in re -evaluation for many officers. 

A great deal depended upon the wis- 
dom and approach of commanders. 
The officers of a given unit usually re- 
flected the approach taken by the com- 
mander of that unit, and, sometimes, by 
the commander of the post on which the 
unit was located or of the higher unit to 
which the organization was assigned or 
attached. Of three Negro engineer reg- 
iments activated at the same time on the 
same post from soldiers of the same 
military experience— all of them drawn 
from six converted battalions— one was 
markedly different from the other two. 
"Quite by accident we had commanding 
officers who placed their best officers 
where they would be most effective," a 
white junior officer of this regiment ex- 
plained. "A more liberal attitude on 
the part of the command in the regi- 
ment resulted in our being generally 
accepted as the best of the three units." 15 
Since the men, training, and external 
environment were the same in the three 
cases, it was a fair assumption that the 
differences among the units reflected dif- 
ferences in the qualities of leadership. 

Of two similar antiaircraft gun battal- 
ions arriving at Gamp Beauregard, Lou- 
isiana, from Camp Davis, North Caro- 
lina, in 1944 a parallel observation was 
made. One battalion was commanded 
by a young, "vigorous, hard-driving, en- 
thusiastic" officer, "interested in his ca- 
reer and determined to do his best." 

" E. T. Hall, Jr., "Race Prejudice and Negro- 
White Relations in the Army," The American 
Journal of Sociology, LII (March, 1947), 402. The 
author, an anthropologist, used as standards of 
judgment the venereal rates, number of courts- 
martial, number of men absent without leave, and 
performance in the field of each unit. 



184 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



The officers under him, white and Ne- 
gro, were well qualified technically and 
were good troop leaders, with the Negro 
officers comparing favorably with the 
white in knowledge of technique; they 
were "interested, working hard, gentle- 
manly . . . racially sensitive but appar- 
ently philosophical and following ex- 
ample set by Battalion Commander." 
The sister battalion was commanded by 
an older officer "with practically no in- 
terest or enthusiasm in his job." The 
white officers under him were "average, 
nothing brilliant, not well selected, and 
reflecting Battalion Commander's lack 
of enthusiasm in their work . . . [the] 
Negro officers not bad, not good, just run 
of the mine." Eight months later, when 
the first battalion was seen on Saipan by 
the same observer it had deteriorated 
somewhat, though it was still a "passably 
effective" unit. "Its current deficiencies 
may be summed up very quickly by say- 
ing that it has lost its vigorous battalion 
commander who furnished the spark and 
driving energy," the observer reported. 16 

The War Department discovered that 
a balance had to be maintained between 
the professional and the personal qualifi- 
cations of the leader of Negro troops if 
only because the officer found himself 
in what was essentially— for him— an arti- 
ficial situation. Balanced leadership 
required that the officer give no hint at 
any time that he had allowed a personal 
conception of racial differences to affect 
his own judgment in any given situation. 

A notable example of the effect of 
the belief that actions of commanders 



16 Narrative of Incident of Disorder, Negro and 
White Soldiers at Camp Beauregard, La., Septem- 
ber, 1944, Incl to Ltr, Brig Gen Edward Barber to 
Col Leonard, Secy Advisory Com on Special Trp 
Policies, 24 Jul 45, ASW 291.2. 



stemmed from racial notions occurred in 
1943 in one of the Negro divisions then 
in training within the continental limits 
of the United States. A rumor, fostered 
if not founded in the distrust which the 
men of the division felt toward their 
commander, grew up and persisted for 
several months. It built itself into a 
fantastic structure, involving the FBI 
and the White House, culminating in 
the assertion that the soldiers of the 
division were planning to assassinate 
their commanding general. In June 
1943, Mrs. Roosevelt forwarded to the 
War Department a letter sent to her that 
quoted the commanding general as hav- 
ing said, on 20 May, in a meeting of the 
division mess sergeants and supply offi- 
cers, that " 'Nigger' soldiers will not eat 
spinach and if given a Chicken Salad 
with Celery as part of its ingredients the 
'Nigger' soldiers will eat the chicken 
and leave the celery. I have thousands 
of 'Nigger' soldiers in my division who 
will not eat this and will not eat that. 
I once had a Nigger Mess Sergeant who 
explained to me why the men would not 
eat celery." 17 The version of the gen- 
eral's remarks sometimes differed, with 
carrots substituted for spinach, but the 
story spread widely. A second story, 
emanating from the same division, ran: 
A jeep turned over and injured a Negro 
soldier. The commanding general was 
reported to have inquired, "Did it hurt 
my truck?" By the fall of 1943, an In- 
dianapolis beauty parlor operator who 
had visited the post concerned was re- 
porting that there was a plot among the 
Negro soldiers to kill their general and 
that he had already been shot at a num- 



17 M/R, Tel Conv, Asst G-3 AGF to CofS Third 
Army, 21 Jun 43, AGF 322/2. 



OFFICERS FOR NEGRO TROOPS 



185 



ber of times. The motivation? The 
general's contempt for his men as sym- 
bolized in the language and content of 
these rumored remarks. 18 The fact that 
these rumors, however untruthful, could 
spread so widely, endure several months, 
and receive credence among many per- 
sons indicated the severity of the strain 
existing between white officers and their 
Negro soldiers in many situations. 

The white officer assigned to all but 
the best located and commanded Negro 
units had many forms of annoyance 
which he would not have had if he had 
been assigned to duty with a white unit. 
His satisfaction in his assignment was not 
increased by this knowledge. Extra du- 
ties and extra tensions increased his re- 
sentment toward his Negro unit and its 
men. One officer reported that in 
Texas "Prejudice was even applied to 
white officers serving with Negro troops, 
as though they had become tainted. 
One of the very first questions asked by 
a civilian on meeting an Army officer 
was, 'What type of troops do you 
have?' " 19 The officer with Negro 
troops was often made to feel that his 
was a secondary role and that, as an 
officer, he was not contributing as fully 
and seriously to the conduct of the war 
as those men who were assigned to white 
units. At times, officers assigned to Ne- 
gro troops felt that they were being pen- 
alized or that they were not considered 
fully competent. A commander, at- 
tempting to determine the attitudes of 
his officers, most of them recent gradu- 
ates of OCS serving in their initial as- 
signments, reported that "the consensus 
was that each of them had been disap- 

le Rpt, ASF, Hq Fifth Sv Comd, 17 Nov 43, and 
other papers in AGF 333/5. 
18 Hall, op. cit., p. 401 f. 



pointed on learning of his assignment to 
a Negro unit. Several of them stated 
that they had failed to measure up and 
thought that they were assigned to in- 
ferior service." 20 

Sometimes, special additional duties 
were allotted to officers with Negro 
troops. Even when these duties were 
normal ones which might have been re- 
quired from time to time of officers in 
any unit, the reaction was that they were 
especially connected with duty with Ne- 
gro troops. In one post, 

most of the colored units were along one 
street; and for reasons known only to those 
in command, every unit had to assign an 
officer and three enlisted men to patrol this 
street between the hours of 6:00 P.M. and 
11:00 P.M. This meant that as many as six 
jeeps and command cars could be seen 
roving up and down about three-quarters 
of a mile of road, sometimes within a hun- 
dred feet of each other. The officers felt the 
duty ridiculous and unnecessary; the men 
quite naturally knew that it was for no 
other reason than that someone was afraid 
of an outbreak. 21 

In this same post, two officers were as- 
signed each night to ride buses to town 
forty miles away; others were assigned 
to stand at the door of the USO club 
in a nearby town. In another unit, the 
officers were required to make block pur- 
chases of railroad tickets at the nearby 
town for men going on pass to discourage 
queues of Negro soldiers in the railroad 
station. Having purchased the tickets, 
the officers then stood at the door of the 
post buses on pass days, handing each 
man his proper ticket as he boarded the 



^Rpt, Investigation 828th TD Bn, Cp Hood, 
Tex., 24-27 Aug 42, p. 5; and exhibit D, p. 90, IG 
333.9-828^ TD Bn 8-12-42. 

21 Hall, op. cit., p. 402, 



186 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



bus. 22 Any officer, regardless of his per- 
sonal view, finding himself in a situation 
where extramilitary duties of an oner- 
ous nature consumed much of his time, 
would prefer to be assigned to a unit 
where such duties were not required. 
Aside from these additional annoyances, 
the greater physical and mental labor 
required for duty with Negro troops, 
large numbers of whom were deficient 
in general as well as in specific educa- 
tional background and in technical 
skills, frequently produced a situation 
in which the chances of maintaining 
proper leadership relations between of- 
ficers and men were reduced to near 
zero. Many officers showed their resent- 
ment to their assignment to Negro units 
openly, in ways unmistakable to the men 
serving under them. In these instances 
the gulf between them and their men 
was greatly deepened. 

Commanders of large units attempted 
to select and weed out officers unsuited 
for duty with Negro troops. During 
the course of its existence, many white 
officers, from lieutenants to lieutenant 
colonels, of the gad Division were re- 
lieved at the request of the division for 
"unsuitability for duty with colored 
troops." 23 Beginning while its officer 
cadre was in training at Fort Benning, 
the 93d Division attempted to weed out 
officers exhibiting "evidence of careless- 
ness and irresponsibility" and lack of 
tact which would make them unsuitable 
for duty with the Negro division. 24 One 
corps commander, whose practice was 

22 Personal observation of the author. 

^92(1 Div Files, a 10.3 x 220.3. 

24 Rati, Hq AGF to CG Third Army, 4 Apr 42, 
and Telg, Hq AGF to Brig Gen E. M. Almond, 
Inf School, Ft. Benning, Ga., AGF Classified Radio- 
grams (AGF-Out) Mar-Aug 42, AGF 210.35/78; 
0,3d Div 210.31 Files, passim. 



to send for commanders of Negro units 
coming into his corps to interview them 
personally, had found it necessary, in a 
number of instances, to change the offi- 
cers of the units in an attempt to im- 
prove leadership. 25 In sixteen months, 
one nondivisional regimental com- 
mander had 254 changes in officer per- 
sonnel, most of them for "inability to 
cope with existing conditions." 26 In- 
vestigations of complaints of racial dis- 
crimination within units and of unit 
disorders often resulted in recommenda- 
tions that one or more officers be relieved 
or transferred. 27 

Since the "unsuitability" of officers 
might become apparent, or develop, 
weeks or months after assignment, it was 
not always possible to ward off in ad- 
vance officer sources of friction. 28 Nor 
was it always possible to tell when an 
officer, by deliberately demonstrating 
"unsuitability" for an onerous duty, 
might be using a simple means to ac- 
quire a transfer to a unit which he would 
prefer. An officer of one of the Negro 
divisions, writing to a friend asking if 
he could get him transferred from the 
division, complained that things had 
"taken a change for the worse, very much 
worse!" There would be no more cad- 
res, no more schools, no more transfers, 
"which means we are all stuck here in 
the division. It was bad enough train- 

25 Ltr, CG VIII Corps to CG AGF, 20 Aug 42, 
AGF 322.999/23 (Cld Trps) . 

- Q 1st. Ind, Hq 364th Inf, APO 980, to TAG, 25 
Apr 44, to Ltr, Officer Hq Co 2d Bn 364th Inf, 
4 Apr 44, OPD 322.97/40. 

27 For examples see Ltr, Asst IG Hq DTC to CG 
DTC, 11 Aug 42, and Inds, AG 291.21 (7 _1 7 _ 42) 
(1) ; Investigation . . . 457th Avn Sq, AAF Files 
Bulky, 333.5 457th Avn Sq; Memo, TIG for CG 
ASF, 23 Nov 44, IG 250-Camp Ellis and Incls. 

a Cf., ASF Conf of CG's Sv Comds, Dallas, Tex., 
17-19 Feb 44, p. 141. 



OFFICERS FOR NEGRO TROOPS 



187 



ing these colored, but no one had the 
idea we'd go overseas with them. That 
would be sheer suicide. These troops 
are not ready and never will be ready for 
or capable of combat. They are for the 
most part afraid and the few smart ones 
have no desire to fight. ... I have to 
get out of this outfit, but can't unless 
someone asks for me. . . . Every white 
officer here is writing, phoning, and send- 
ing wires to everyone he knows. We 
are all trying to get out." 29 The divi- 
sion, when queried, had categorical ex- 
planations for the desire of white officers 
for transfers. The isolation of the post 
at which the division was stationed; the 
prospect of six months more training 
before going overseas which faced officers 
who were anxious to get into combat; the 
difficulty and slowness of training en- 
listed men, 86 percent of whom were in 
AGCT Classes IV and V; and the "natu- 
ral preference" of white officers for 
service with white troops were cited as 
reasons for dissatisfaction. Yet, the di- 
vision said, there were relatively few 
requests for relief on the basis of inabil- 
ity to accept Negro troops. 30 But when 
requests were made on the basis of ob- 
jections to service with Negro troops, 
they were often completely explicit. 
An officer requesting relief from the 9 2d 
Division gave as his reasons: 

Incompatibility with colored people to 
which the colored soldier has proven no ex- 
ception. Having been raised in Montana 
which is remote from areas of race prej- 
udice I had accepted my association with 
the colored personnel with an open mind. 
In fact, upon a previous association incident 
to a four year residence in Tennessee an 
initial sympathy changed to a feeling of 



29 Papers in AGF 322/4. 
*>Ibid. 



disgust towards practically all colored in- 
dividuals, because of their practically uni- 
versal worthlessness and ineffectiveness. I 
can still feel a strong admiration for those 
who demonstrate real competence; a feeling 
even accentuated by contrast to relative 
achievement. Furthermore, to those who 
deserve recognition for sustained merito- 
rious performance I have no feeling of aver- 
sion. Although I can still find such interest 
in a few specific individuals, for the rank 
and file I can feel only disgust for their 
inherent slovenliness, and their extreme in- 
dolence, indifference and frequent subtle 
insolence. From personal observation I have 
concluded that they are so completely in- 
dolent and indifferent as to fail to take 
simple measures and safeguards in the 
interest of self preservation, even under 
pressures applied by their white officers. I 
am likewise convinced that with few excep- 
tions colored officers with whom I have 
come into contact are thoroughly incom- 
petent, and for the most part are to be 
viewed in a light little different from the 
enlisted men. 

The officer continued, saying that he had 
asked not to be assigned to the division 
and that, after being so assigned, he 
found that he could not sleep at night 
and that he was lying awake with worry- 
ing and with headaches. He asked to 
be transferred to a replacement depot. 31 
The request was approved by both the 
regimental commander and the division, 
the division adjutant adding defensively 
that "the prejudice outlined was not 

stated until Major was informed 

that his assignment was for duty with 
troops and not staff duty." 32 

Commanders of Negro troops had 
long since discovered that no value lay in 
the retention of an officer with these 
attitudes, for troops would sense them 
almost immediately. The commander 

^Ltr, Major , Hq Bn 370th Inf, 31 Jan 45, 

to CG g2d Div, g2d Div Files, aio.3 x 280.3/23. 
32 Ibid., 2d Ind, Qzd Div to Fifth Army. 



188 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



of one training center with a large pro- 
portion of Negro troops explained ". . . 
we all get discouraged, and get a rather 
defeatist attitude ourselves [when trying 
to develop NCO's from men of AGCT 
IV and V ratings]. The negroes are 
extremely sensitive almost to the point 
of clairvoyance in sensing such an atti- 
tude on the part of their superiors." 33 

White Officers: The Search 
for Standards 

In 1942, after the recognition of a 
serious morale problem among Negro 
troops, a special inspector reported to 
the War Department that there was a 
tendency to assign white officers of medi- 
ocre caliber to Negro units and that 
leadership in many units was therefore 
deficient. In many instances com- 
manders "failed completely to appreci- 
ate the problems which their units pre- 
sented in that particular locality, and 
had taken no steps to solve them," the 
Deputy Chief of Staff said when direct- 
ing a critical examination of unit prac- 
tices. He emphasized that officers of 
high professional qualities, "particularly 
[of] judgment and common sense, tact, 
initiative, and leadership" were desired 
in Negro units. Officers who are "better 
trained in a military way," but "without 
the knack" of serving with Negroes "not 
only fail to accomplish the task but cre- 
ate the conditions which breed trou- 
ble." 34 

The commands had little to go on in 



33 Leadership, Address by Brig Gen Horace L. 
Whittaker, Notes, ASF Fifth Tng Conf, ASFTC, Cp 
Barkeley, Tex., 24 Oct 44. 

M Ltr, DCofS to CG's Major Comds, Defense 
Comds, and Armies, 10 Aug 4a, WDCSA 391.8 1 
(10-19-42) . 



surveying their unit officers other than 
age and efficiency reports. Army 
Ground Forces examined the records of 
all Regular Army officers assigned to 
Negro units. Without exception these 
officers were rated superior or excellent. 
In many cases their ratings were higher 
than those of officers in new white divi- 
sions. But their ratings did not reflect 
their ability to command Negro troops, 
for, as Army Ground Forces pointed out, 
the number of officers in the Army with 
experience in "handling colored troops" 
was practically negligible. 35 Special in- 
spections of Negro units to determine 
the fitness of their officers were ordered 
in some commands, Most of the officers 
in the Negro units surveyed were young, 
inexperienced graduates of officer can- 
didate schools— as were most of the jun- 
ior officers which the Army was using. 16 
It was difficult to say whether or not they 
would develop into satisfactory company 
officers. This uncertainty militated 
against their wholesale removal. 

The Deputy Chief of Staff's letter on 
professional qualifications did have an 
important secondary effect. It fixed the 
notion in the minds of commanders and 
staff agencies that the War Department 
desired special consideration for Negro 
units in the assignment of competent 
officers. But where were they to come 
from? Commanders were unwilling to 
give up their best officers to supply the 
needs of Negro units. Sometimes or- 
ders transferring white officers to Negro 
units, disregarding the effect that such 
phrasing might have on the officers' ap- 
proach to their new permanent assign- 

^Ltr, Hq AGF to DCofS, 20 Aug 42, AGF 
322.999/23 (Cld Trps) . 

*M/S, Hq AGF, Ground G-i to CofS AGF, 
11 Oct 42, AGF 322.999/25. 



OFFICERS FOR NEGRO TROOPS 



189 



merit, indicated that the transfer was 
pursuant to the letter "Professional 
Qualifications of Officers Assigned to Ne- 
gro Troops." S7 Some major commands 
resorted to the arbitrary ruling that no 
officer with a rating of less than "excel- 
lent" was to be assigned to a Negro 
unit. 38 The War Department followed, 
later, with a similar blanket ruling for all 
Negro units undergoing training in the 
United States. 39 Reports were rendered 
on certain officers with Negro units who 
fell below the desired standards, but 
many headquarters reported that most 
of these officers could be brought up to 
standard in a short time. 

Some observers felt that an all-round 
high efficiency rating was not nearly so 
desirable as excellence in the leadership 
column of the efficiency report. 40 Oth- 
ers felt that at least a measure of im- 
provement would be obtained if all 
white officers assigned to Negro units 
had at least served an apprenticeship in 
white units. Adding the errors of green 
troop leaders to the difficulties of Negro 
units could then be avoided. In any 
event, it became obvious that the formal 
efficiency rating, especially if earned 
with white troops, was no guarantee of 
good leadership for Negro units. Army 
Service Forces suggested to the Chief of 
Staff that since the information available 
from the officer's Qualification Card was 

37 Cf., Ltr Order, Hq 35th Inf Div to 4 Named 
Officers, 12 Sep 42, AG 210.31 (2-14-42) (3) . 

38 Ltr, Hq AGF to CG's, 10 Aug 42, AGF 
322.999/23. 

38 Memo, G-i for TAG, 21 Mar 44, WDGAP 
210.31; Llrs, TAG to CG's Major Comds, 24 Mar 
44, AG 210.31 (21 Mar 44); Ltr, Hq ASF to CG's 
and MDW, Chiefs Svs, TQMG, TSG, CSigO, 1 
Apr 44, SPX 210.31 (24 Mar 44) ; AAF Ltr 35-8, 
18 May 44. 

40 Notes, Fifth ASF Trig Conf, 24 Oct 44, Cp 
Barkeley, Tex., p. 10s. 



"entirely inadequate" for the purposes 
of assignment to Negro- units, personal 
interviews and letters from present com- 
manders be substituted to determine 
whether or not officers for assignment 
had: 

a. A primary requirement of demon- 
strated leadership ability in a command 
assignment. 

b. Mature judgment and common 
sense. 

c. Even disposition and patience. 

d. Demonstrated stability under pres- 
sure and ability to handle emergency 
situations. 

e. Ability to organize and foster ath- 
letic and recreational programs. 41 
These criteria were approved by the 
War Department on 18 October 1944 
and the requirement of an excellent 
efficiency rating was rescinded. 42 ASF 
had also recommended that officers who 
did not meet these requirements be re- 
lieved, but the War Department did not 
include this recommendation in its di- 
rective. In instructions to its own com- 
manders, ASF recommended that officers 
having these qualities be considered for 
promotion, that all officers be retained 
long enough to demonstrate these qual- 
ities, and that the turnover of suitable 
officers be held to a minimum. 43 

The quest for standards in judging 
the improvement of leadership in Negro 
units continued to the end of the war. 
It is doubtful that any of the formulas 



"S/S, Hq ASF for CofS, 13 Oct 44, WDCSA 
210.31 (13 Oct 44), AG 210.31 (21 Mar 44) (2). 

42 Ibid.; Ltr, TAG to CG's Major Comds, 1 Nov 
44, AG 210.31 (13 Oct 44), AGPO-A-SPGAM. 

"Ltr, Hq ASF to CG's Sv Comds, Chiefs Svs, 
TQMG, TSG, and CSigO, 1 Nov 44, SPXPO-A- 
SPGAM-210.31 (13 Oct 44) ; Ltr, Hq ASF to CG's, 
DCofS for Sv Comds, et al., 15 Nov 44, SPXPO-A 
210.31 (7 Nov 44) . 



190 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



had any broad-scale effect other than to 
keep the attention of higher headquar- 
ters focused upon the seriousness of the 
problem and to reinforce the feeling in 
many headquarters that the supervision 
of Negro units was much more trouble 
than it was worth. For while various 
higher headquarters continued to blame 
weak commanders for conditions such 
as those which resulted in the Camp 
Claiborne riots of 1944,** agencies re- 
sponsible for recommending officer as- 
signments had little means of knowing 
much about the personal characteristics 
of officers assigned to Negro units. 
When units were reported as having 
unsatisfactory complements of officers, 
the best that could be done, in most 
cases, was to replace the unit command- 
ers and hope that their subordinates 
would mend their ways either by pre- 
cept or by following the example set 
by the new commander. 45 Interview- 
ing on a large scale was impossible and 
formal tests for judging officers for Negro 
troops did not exist. Though higher 
headquarters might prescribe careful 
checks of officers' records and, some- 
times, individual interviews before as- 
signment to Negro units, time and the 
lack of experience in lower echelon 
assigning agencies often conspired to 
defeat these efforts. The process, as it 



"Memo, Col Leonard for ASW, 3 Oct 44, sub: 
Summary Rpt o£ Recent Visit of Observation at 
Southern Cps Relative to Racial Matters, Incl 1, 
Rpt on Racial Conditions at Cp Claiborne, SPTR 
291.2 (3 Oct 44) . 

45 1st Ind, OCS to CG ASF, 10 Jan 44, to Memo, 
CG ASF for CofE, 31 Dec 43, SPTRU 333.3 (IG) 
(Eng) (23 Dec 43); Ltr, CG VIII Corps to CG 
AGF, 20 Aug 42, AGF 322.999/23 (Cld Trps) ; Llr, 
OASW to Mrs. Roosevelt, 12 Aug 43, based on 
WDGAO/322.99 (1 Jun 43) dated 9 Aug 43, ASW 
291.21 Alpha; ASC Survey of Negro Organizations, 
1944, AAF 333.5 Bulky. 



operated within one command which 
required both a check of officer records 
and multiple interviews before assign- 
ment to a Negro unit, was described by 
the personnel officer in charge as "a 
case of try and try again. You never 
can tell what kind of officer is suitable 
for assignment to colored troops." 48 
His subordinate officer in charge of 
working out assignment details elab- 
orated on the technique as it operated: 

You see, my instructions were to get of- 
ficers in there regardless of qualification. . . . 
What we had to do was take any officers 
and assign them to the organization. These 
were the only ones made available to me 
for transfer. . . . The whole history is, I 
mean just cold facts, we will call up Daniel 
Field and say we have got to have an officer 
for a colored aviation squadron. They will 

check and say OK, I will give you S . 

He is made available and we transfer him 
to Herbert Smart. That's just the way these 
things actually come up. 47 

In the meantime, pronouncements on 
the qualities desired in a commander 
of Negro troops continued to be made. 

These pronouncements had one thing 
in common: the traits described were 
desirable in equal measure in officers as- 
signed to any troops. Occasionally an 
officer sought to apply age-old leader- 
ship formulas with a shift in emphasis 
to explain differences between the com- 
mand of Negro and white troops. Brig. 
Gen. Horace L. Whittaker, commanding 



46 Statement, Maj Axel G. Cask, Chief Pers and 
Tng Div, Hq Warner Robins ASC, Robins Fid, 
Ga., 28 Jun 44; Ltr, Hq ASC OAI to CG ASC, 
Patterson Fid, Ohio, 11 Jul 44, Rpt of Investiga- 
tion re Alleged Conditions in the 456th and 457th 
Avn Sqs . . . , ASC IG-5-EWS, AAF 333.5, Bulky. 

"Capt James B. Lucy, Chief Officers' Br Mil 
Pers Sec, Hq WRASC, 28 Jun 44, ASC IG-5-EWS, 
AAF 333-5- Bulky. 



OFFICERS FOR NEGRO TROOPS 



191 



the Fort Warren AFSTC, told a training 
conference: 

With colored troops the three funda- 
mentals of leadership are still present and, 
I must emphasize, even more important 
than with white troops. The only difference 
is in the importance of each. With white 
troops, I would say that the importance of 
knowing your work is the most important 
of the three. With colored troops it is the 
least important. The reaction of colored 
troops makes it more important that their 
officers convince them that they are getting 
a fair and square deal. It is next to most 
important that they be convinced that the 
officer is interested in them. 48 

Essentially, all formulas failed be- 
cause the Army could not find enough 
officers who both understood them and 
were able to carry them out. General 
Whittaker declared that in his experi- 
ence at a training center he had seen no 
more than twenty-five company com- 
manders who were efficient enough to 
exercise the required leadership and at 
the same time bring their units up to 
technical standards. 49 At no time did 
the Army have enough officers with both 
the characteristics and the experience 
which together produced excellent bal- 
anced leadership, and no one knew 
where to get them in sufficient numbers 
in the limited time available. Officers 
with the desired Solomonic "maturity" 
enabling them to approach the manifold 
problems of Negro units with confidence 
were especially elusive. Reports of the 
mediocre caliber of officers assigned to 
Negro units therefore continued to flow 
into higher headquarters. 50 

48 Leadership, Address by Gen Whittaker to ASF 
Fifth Tng Conf, 24 Oct 44, ASFTC Cp Barkeley, 
Tex., Notes, pp. 101, iog. 

48 Ibid., p. 103. 

M Memo for Files, Gen Edward S. Greenbaum, 
8 Mar 43, AGF 322/1 (93d Div) ; Ltr, Hq AGF 



Plans for Mobilizing Negro Officers 

Negro officers were not immune them- 
selves to many of the problems of ad- 
justment to service with Negroes which 
affected adversely the leadership abil- 
ities of so many white officers serving in 
Negro units. Though their problems 
were of a different order, Negro officers 
and officer candidates had enough of 
their own to keep them from providing 
an adequate answer to the leadership 
needs of Negro units. Moreover, Negro 
officers never existed in numbers suffi- 
cient to supply all Negro units, nor is it 
likely that enough qualified officer can- 
didates could have been drawn from the 
Negroes in the Army to do so. 

When mobilization began in 1940 the 
War Department anticipated that, in 
accordance with existing policy, the 
small number of Negro officers available 
would be absorbed entirely in the few 
units authorized all Negro officers. As 
noted earlier, there were then only five 
Negro officers in the Regular Army, 
three of whom were chaplains. 61 The 
three National Guard regiments were 
staffed with Negro officers who were ex- 
pected to remain with these units when 
they were called into federal service. 
The bulk of Negro officers available for 
assignment in the early period of mobil- 
ization were in the Reserve Corps. 



to R&SC, 25 Nov 43, AGF 353.92/262; Ltr, CG 
Cp Wheeler, Ga., to CG AGF, 7 Dec 43, AGF 
322.999/381; 2d Ind, Hq Ft. Huachuca to CG 9th 
Sv Comd, 23 Mar 45, on Hq ASF to CG's Sv 
Comds, etc., 30 Jan 45, SPX 291.2 (26 Jan 45) 
OB-S-SPDCCC) , Ft. Huachuca 291.2, 9th Sv Comd 
291.2. See also: Lt. Col. Herbert S. Ripley, M.C., 
ORG, and Maj. Stewart Wolf, M.C., O.R.C., "Men- 
tal Illness Among Negro Troops Overseas," Amer- 
ican Journal of Psychiatry, CIII (January, 1947) , 
510. 

61 See above, |p. 29.I 



192 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Table 3 — Negro National Guard Officers 
24 September 1940 



Unit 


Infantry 


Medical 


Dental 


Chaplains 


Total 


Total 


136 


n 


2 


1 


150a 


372d Infantry 












D.C 


3 


l 








4 


Maryland 


3 


l 








4 


Massachusetts 


IS 


l 








16 


Ohio 


14 


i 








15 


184th Field Artillery 


44 


3 


1 





48 


369th Coast Artillery 


57 


4 


1 


1 


63 



° Does not include enlisted men holding NGUS commissions. 

Source: Tab B, Memo, G-l for CofS, 28 Sep 40, AG 210.31 ORC (9-28-40). 



The War Department had not deter- 
mined in advance of mobilization such 
questions as the service of Negro officers 
in units with white officers, the relative 
rank and promotion policy for Negro 
officers, or the types of units and over- 
head positions to which they were to 
be assigned. These questions were set- 
tled as they arose and when they could 
no longer be ignored. As with Negro 
units, the policy on the provision and 
use of Negro officers was developed bit by 
bit, to fit current needs. In the process, 
the provision of leadership, as it related 
to the provision of Negro officers, be- 
came a distinctly secondary considera- 
tion. 

In September 1940 the G-i Division 
proposed five possible plans for using 
Negro Reserve officers: 52 

Plan One would maintain the three 
National Guard regiments overstrength 
in officers. All Negro Reserve officers 
would be assigned to these units. This 

13 Memo, G-i for CofS, 38 Sep 40, AG 210.31- 
ORC (9-58-40) . 



plan had two disadvantages: it provided 
a large surplus of officers in the three 
regiments and, G-i thought, would be 
unsatisfactory to organizations "now ad- 
vocating Negro representation through- 
out the Army." 

Plan Two, a modification of Plan 
One, provided revised requirements for 
the Guard regiments. Under this plan 
only 79 Reserve officers would be used 
in these regiments initially. The re- 
mainder would be used to fill any short- 
ages developing among the 150 eligible 
Negro Guard officers. 

Plan Three provided for the addition 
of a fourth Negro tactical regiment to be 
staffed entirely with Negro Reserve of- 
ficers. This Regular Army infantry 
unit, to be organized at Fort Devens, 
Massachusetts, would absorb 122 Negro 
officers, including medical and dental 
officers and chaplains. The remainder 
would fill out the National Guard units. 
This plan had the virtue, G-i felt, of 
providing representation in the Regu- 
lar Army as well as in the Guard and 



OFFICERS FOR NEGRO TROOPS 



193 



Table 4 — Negro Reserve Officers Eligible for Active Duty 

30 June 1940 







Lieutenant 






lit 


2d 




Branch 


Coloneh 


Colonela 


Majors 


Captains 


Lieutenants 


Lieutenants 


Total 


Total 


1 


3 


9 


42 


14S 


153 


353 


Infantry 


1 


2 


4 


30 


73 


152 


262 










1 


1 


1 


1 


4 







1 


3 


4 


52 





60 


Dental 











2 


6 





8 


Chaplains 








1 


4 


9 





14 


Chemical Warfare 














1 





1 


Veterinary 














3 





3 


Military Intelligence 











1 








1 



Source: Tab C, Memo, G-l for CofS, 28 Sep 40, AG 210.31 ORC (9-28-40). 



placing "all negro officers on their own, 
where they must produce results or fail 
in their responsibilities." It, along with 
the other two plans, had the disadvan- 
tage of placing all Negro officers with 
tactical units, opening the War Depart- 
ment to the possible charge of "placing 
them all in positions of greatest danger." 
In addition, Plan Three provided for 
an excess proportion of Negro Reserve 
officers, based on the number of Negro 
Reservists as compared with the total 
strength of the Officers' Reserve Corps. 
All three of these plans, G-i felt, had 
the positive merit of avoiding the mix- 
ing of white and Negro officers either in 
units or in replacement centers and 
other installations. 

Plan Four was the same as Plan 
Three, except that several units in corps 
area service commands were substituted 
for the single Negro Regular Army regi- 
ment. These units were to be Quarter- 
master service and truck companies, 
headquarters detachments, and similar 
organizations. This plan would enable 



the Army to absorb all Negro Reserve 
officers remaining after filling the Guard 
regiments, it would guarantee a propor- 
tionate representation of Negro Reserv- 
ists, and it would provide a flexible 
means of maintaining Negro Reserve of- 
ficers on duty at all times. Its disad- 
vantages were that if the National Guard 
finally furnished a full complement of 
officers to the three regiments, all Negro 
Reserve officers would be "thrown into" 
corps area service commands. A second 
objection which G-i saw was that Negro 
Reserve officers would be placed on duty 
in stations with white officers. 

Plan Five contemplated the comple- 
tion of the National Guard complement 
of Negro officers with Negro Reserve 
officers and the assignment of the re- 
mainder to the four traditional Regular 
Army Negro regiments or to new Regu- 
lar Army units, limiting the Negroes to 
company grades. This plan, though it 
would provide a wider distribution of 
Negro officers, would, at the same time, 
violate the "policy of mixing white and 



194 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



colored officers in the same organiza- 
tion," G-i pointed out. G-i doubted 
further that Negro Reserve officers would 
be of value in "Regular Army organiza- 
tions of Negro enlisted men of long serv- 
ice under white officers." Nor would 
this plan provide position vacancies for 
the seven Negro infantry field grade offi- 
cers. 

G-i recommended that Plan Three 
be approved and that the number of re- 
servists ordered to active duty be di- 
vided proportionately among the arms 
and services based on the numbers com- 
missioned in each branch. Because the 
only arm in which Negro reservists were 
commissioned was the infantry, G-i 
recommended that Negro infantry Re- 
serve officers also be considered eligi- 
ble for assignments to the artillery 
branches, since two of the three National 
Guard regiments were to be changed 
from infantry to the two artillery arms. 
In addition, G-i recommended that 
"the policy which seeks to avoid mixing 
white and negro officers in the same 
tactical unit should be continued." 53 

The Operations and Training Divi- 
sion, G-3, objected to Plan Three. It 
would do no more than solve the im- 
mediate problem, provide "an all negro 
unit in the Regular Army from now 
on," and bring an unnecessarily large 
number of Negro Reserve officers into 
the Army. 64 The War Plans Division 
wanted extra Negro officers placed in en- 
gineer separate battalions and ordnance 
ammunition companies rather than in 
a new infantry regiment, explaining: 
"The separate battalions and ammuni- 
tion companies, being labor units, will 

"ibid. 

"Memo, G-3 for G-i, 7 Oct 40, AG 210.31 ORC 
(9-88-40) . 



suffer least from being officered by ne- 
groes. With three negro combat units 
(National Guard) officered by negroes 
on active duty, it is entirely reasonable 
to provide some service units also offi- 
cered by Negroes. Unless all of these 
units are completely isolated, they 
would, regardless of type, be located at 
stations where there are also white or 
negro units with white officers. . . ." 
Moreover, the War Plans Division 
added, when "the present emergency" 
was over, the Army would be reduced. 
"The first units to be demobilized should 
be those least needed, purely labor units 
such as separate battalions. This will 
afford an opportunity of eliminating, 
with their units, the negro reserve of- 
ficers on duty with Regular Army 
units." 66 

Only The Adjutant General and the 
Executive for Reserve Affairs concurred 
in G-i's recommendations. G-i, re- 
iterating its objections to the use of Ne- 
gro officers in small units, admitted that 
the use of Negro reservists in service as 
well as combat units was "reasonable," 
but it again pointed out that this would 
mean employing small groups of Negro 
officers on posts with large numbers of 
white officers. Plan Three, G-i, 
stated, "at least groups them in organ- 
izations of sufficient size that they may 
provide their own organizations for en- 
tertainment and recreation." Since two 
of the National Guard regiments were to 
be converted from infantry to artillery, 
it would be reasonable to supply infan- 
try Reserve officers to these units, but 
none of the infantry officers were "suit- 
able for assignment to Engineer or Ord- 



^Memo, WPD for G-i, 15 Oct 40, AG 210.31 

ORC (9-88-40). 



OFFICERS FOR NEGRO TROOPS 



195 



nance units. However, a new Infantry 
regiment would be no more permanent 
than new service units, all of which are 
Regular Army inactive units." 58 De- 
spite G-i's advocacy of its Plan Three, 
assigning all reservists to the three 
Guard regiments and to a new Regular 
infantry regiment, the Chief of Staff's 
office, in approving the proposals on 22 
October substituted Plan Four, provid- 
ing for the use of Negro officers in corps 
area service commands in lieu of the 
fourth regiment. 57 

This decision did not stand long. 
President Roosevelt, disturbed by rep- 
resentations of Negroes that their Re- 
serve officers were apparently not going 
to be used widely, penciled a note to the 
Assistant Secretary of War: 
Patterson 

Colored Reserve Officers must be 

called just as White Reserves. 

Assign to new units & not just 

to Nat Gd. units. 
F.D.R. 58 

Thereupon General Marshall in- 
structed G-i that Negro reservists were 
to be assigned to new Regular units. 
"You will have to check up on our plans 
and see how best to do this considering 
the qualifications of the officers," he 
wrote. 59 On 28 October General Mar- 
shall gave oral approval for a subsequent 
change back to Plan Three, which G-i 
had advocated all along, with a modifica- 
tion providing for proportional use of 
Negro reservists. 60 On 9 November 1940 



"Additional Memo, G-i for CofS, 16 Oct 40, 
AG z 10.31 ORC (9-28-40). 

a Memo, G-i for CofS, 28 Sep 40, OCS 20602-103. 

58 Note, President Roosevelt to ASW Robert Pat- 
terson, attached to Memo, Gen Marshall for G-i, 
25 Oct 40, AG 210.31 ORC (9-28-40). 

" Ibid. 

"Memo, G— 1 for CofS, 29 Oct 40, AG 210.31 
ORC (9-28-40). 



the approved plan was communicated to 
the Army, in the following terms: 

The number of Negro Reserve Officers to 
be called to extended active duty will be in 
the same proportion to the total number of 
eligible negro Reserve officers as the num- 
ber of white Reserve officers. They will be 
assigned to the three colored National 
Guard regiments (372d Infantry, 184th 
Field Artillery, and 369th Coast Artillery) , 
as required, to complete the officer comple- 
ments of those regiments. In addition, one 
new colored regiment of Infantry, to be or- 
ganized later, will be officered by negro 
Reserve officers, so far as they are avail- 
able. 61 

The Policy in Operation 

Before Negro Reserve officers could be 
assigned to National Guard units, the 
number of Guard officers who would 
pass their physical examinations and be 
inducted had to be determined. This 
number was estimated at 150 officers. 
For the three Guard regiments and one 
new Regular regiment, an estimated 
368 officers would be required. More 
than half of these would therefore have 
to come from the Reserve. 62 

Eligible Negro Reserve officers were 
not uniformly distributed through the 
nine corps areas. Therefore, authority 
to order Negro officers to active duty was 
retained by The Adjutant General 
rather than decentralized to the corps 
areas as in the case of white officers. 63 
The available Reserve pool fluctuated 
somewhat as new officers were added 



m Ltr, TAG to CofS GHQ, CG's Armies, Corps 
Areas, and Chiefs of Arms and Svs, 9 Nov 40, AG 
210.31 ORC (11-6-40) M-A-M, based on Memo, 
G-i for TAG, 5 Nov 40, AG 210.31 ORC (9-28-40). 

62 Memo, G— 1 for TAG, 2g Nov 40, AG 210.31 
ORC (1 1-29-40) . 

19 Ibid.; Ltr, TAG to CG's, 24 Oct 40, AG sio.31 
NGUS {10-3-40) M M-A. 



196 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



from schools, as inactive officers regained 
their eligibility for active duty, as active 
officers were discovered to be over-age 
for troop duty, and as new officers were 
added from unexpected sources. The 
unexpected sources included officers in 
the Philippines, Hawaii, and Puerto 
Rico, whose race at times was not clearly 
or indisputably indicated in their rec- 
ords. The pool, even before the staffing 
of the approved units began, was called 
upon for officers for other uses, thus re- 
ducing the number of officers available 
for assignment to units. The Second 
Corps Area, for example, asked for 
eight Negro junior officers for duty at its 
reception centers. Four of these officers 
were furnished with the understanding 
that they would be sent to the new in- 
fantry regiment, now designated the 
366th, in February 1941. Selective 
Service requested first one, and, later, a 
second Reserve officer for its national 
headquarters. When plans for the new 
Negro pursuit squadron and its air base 
detachment matured, Negro officers were 
required for nonflying duties. A pro- 
portion of these came from the Re- 
serve. 8 * A few reservists were assigned 
to the new military police battalions. 
A few others, with technical training or 
needed specialities, went to new Signal 
units, into the Specialists Corps, or later, 
when that branch was organized, into 
Special Services. Those eligibles of 
troop age remaining uncalled went from 
temporary duty at the Infantry School to 
the 369th Infantry, the 93d Division's 

84 Immediate Action Ltr, TAG to CG's Corps 
Areas et al., 10 May 41, AG 320.2 (4-15-41) MT- 
C-M; Ltr, Hq SEATC, Maxwell Field, Ala., to 
TAG, 18 Jul 41, AG gao.2 (7-1 8-41) . At least 66 
Negro Reserve officers applied for the four branch 
immaterial positions which were originally an- 
nounced. 



new selectee regiment. 65 But the gen- 
eral interpretation of the directive gov- 
erning the assignment of Negro Reserve 
officers was that the Negro reservists 
would be employed only in the four 
designated tactical units. 

This limitation aroused apprehension 
among Negro specialists, especially in the 
medical profession, both within and 
without the Officers' Reserve Corps. 
The four tactical units could absorb only 
twelve medical and five dental officers. 66 
There were a number of Negro doctors 
and dentists, primarily graduates of 
Howard University, who held infantry 
Reserve commissions dating from the 
completion of their college training. 
Many of these men had been attempt- 
ing to secure transfers to the Medical De- 
partment Reserve, only to be told by the 
corps areas that there were no vacancies 
or that the procurement objectives had 
been reached. 67 Moreover, applica- 
tions from Negro civilian dentists and 
physicians for appointments in the Re- 
serve were being returned by corps 
areas despite the drive to obtain addi- 
tional Reserve officers from these pro- 
fessions. 68 Negroes were fearful that 
these physicians and dentists would be 
called to active duty as infantry officers, 
as some actually were, or as selectees 
and that their professional training 
would be a loss to them and to the Army. 

"Rad, TAG to CG Fourth Corps Area, 9 Mar 
4a, Fourth Corps Area 353 ORG (EAD) , item 
480-F. 

"Memo, G— 1 for CofS, 29 Nov 40, AG 210.31 
ORC (10-22-40). 

67 Ltr, A. N. Vaughn, M.D., President National 
Medical Association, to SW, 16 Mar 41, Incl to 
Memo, Col E. R. Householder, AGD, for ExO 
AGD, 20 Mar 41, AG 210.1 Med (2-19-41) M. 

68 Memo, G-i for TAG, 12 Feb 41, and attached 
Memo for Record, AG 210.1 Med Reserve (2- 
12-41). 



OFFICERS FOR NEGRO TROOPS 



197 



The War Department belatedly re- 
minded corps areas and departments 
that directives covering applications for 
Reserve appointments applied to Ne- 
groes as well as to whites. 69 It then 
developed that further adjustments 
were required. 

The approved peacetime procure- 
ment objective for Negro Reserve of- 
ficers of the corps area assignment group 
provided for 120 medical and 44 dental 
officers. In 1940, 55 medical and 34 
dental officers were required to complete 
this objective. Many corps areas, it was 
then discovered, had filled their com- 
plete allotments of medical officers and 
all had filled their dental allotments 
while ignoring the existence of a Negro 
objective included within the larger 
allotments. There was, by November 
1940, an overage of 513 officers com- 
missioned in the Dental Reserve. 70 
One of the questions was where the al- 
lotments to complete the Negro objec- 
tive were to come from. The other 
was where the Negro medical and dental 
reservists, aside from the few needed in 
the four tactical units set aside for Ne- 
gro Reserve officers, would be assigned 
should the procurement objective be 
completed. 

The Surgeon General's Office, expect- 
ing the Medical Department to be as- 
signed about 4,000 Negro enlisted men 
and several hundred officers as its pro- 
portionate share of the Negroes to be 
received during the 1940-41 military 
program, had been studying this ques- 
tion since August 1940. The Surgeon 



• Ltr, TAG to Corps Areas, Depts, and TSG, 
15 Feb 41, AG 210.1 Med Reserve (2-13-41) R-A. 

"Ltr, TAG to Corps Areas, 10 Jul 39, AG 381 
(6-8-39) Misc M-A; Memo, G-i for CofS, 29 Nov 
40, AG 310.31 ORC (10-S2-40). 



General proposed in October 1940 that 
Negro Medical Department officers be 
used "in all units officered by Negroes, 
but that medical officers in units with 
white officers remain white as hereto- 
fore," that officers and nurses be em- 
ployed in "colored wards" of all station 
and general hospitals with an average 
of 100 Negro patients, and that hospitals 
used for Negroes exclusively be staffed 
with Negro medical personnel, including 
nurses. The colored professional per- 
sonnel in hospitals was to be cared for 
by the medical sanitary companies pro- 
posed in the same paper. 71 This plan, 
in its general aspects, was approved on 
11 December 1940, with the additional 
provision that the National Medical As- 
sociation, the Negro counterpart of the 
American Medical Association, be re- 
quested to suggest the names of Negro 
physicians who might be used by the 
Army and that both Negro and white 
medical officers be used in units with all 
white line officers. 72 Negro wards, 
eight at each post, with all Negro profes- 
sionals, were authorized for Fort Bragg, 
North Carolina, and for Camp Living- 
ston, Louisiana, the two stations with 
the largest Negro populations. 73 Addi- 
tional Negro wards were to be desig- 
nated to absorb Negro medical officers as 
additional commissions were granted. 

These Medical Department plans, 
like the other War Department plans 
for mobilizing Negro officers, had grown 
out of recognition that some Negro of- 
ficers would have to be employed if the 
War Department was to avoid charges of 

71 Ltr, OSG to TAG, S5 Oct 40, AG 320.2 (10- 
25-40) (8-2-40) (4) sec. 6. 

"Memo, G-i for CofS, 15 Jan 41, AG 320.2 (10- 
25-40) . 

™Ibid, These wards required 17 doctors, 2 den- 
tists, and 28 nurses at each hospital. 



198 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



discrimination. These plans were in 
accordance with the provisions of the 
publicly announced policy of October 
1940. Though the War Department 
had insisted in all policy statements up- 
on the maintenance of single standards 
in the appointment of both white and 
Negro officers, it had paid little atten- 
tion to other effects of these plans. It 
had given little attention to the pro- 
vision of the best possible leadership 
for the units concerned. The primary 
motivation of the planners was to satisfy 
a demand for the use of Negro officers 
in a way that would intrude them in the 
least direct manner upon the Army as a 
whole and, as the War Plans Division 
expressed it, to place them in units 
which would "suffer least" from them. 
The debate over the virtues of addi- 
tional tactical units and service units for 
the assignment of Negro officers did not 
revolve about the capacity of the officers 
to execute efficiently duties involved in 
either type of unit nor about the poten- 
tial usefulness of the units themselves; 
rather, it revolved about the desirability 
of containing Negro officers in self-suffi- 
cient units where they could provide 
their own entertainment and where 
housing and messing contacts between 
Negro and white officers could be held 
to a minimum. Concern about the 
numbers of Negro officers and the possi- 
bility of reducing their numbers once 
the emergency was over exceeded con- 
cern about regulating numbers in terms 
of their qualifications and their useful- 
ness to the training and leadership of 
the units to which they were to be as- 
signed. In any event, no measurement 
of the leadership abilities of the existing 
officers in the civilian components was 
available. Without a fair trial, certain 



agencies urged, no judgment on the 
abilities of the Negro officers could be 
given. Disquieting suspicions, coming 
from World War I, might be held, but 
since the object during the period of 
peacetime mobilization was to train 
both officers and men as rapidly as pos- 
sible and with the least friction, the 
provision of position vacancies for Negro 
officers and not the provision of leader- 
ship for Negro troops became the crite- 
rion for policy decisions. 

Command Problems in the Negro 
Regiments 

In the two infantry Guard regiments 
being converted to artillery before in- 
duction into the federal service, all of- 
ficers as well as enlisted men would have 
to be retained in their new branches. 
These were the 369th Infantry, con- 
verted to the 369th Coast Artillery (AA), 
and the 8th Illinois Infantry, converted 
to the 184th Field Artillery. Both regi- 
ments lost their commanders before be- 
ing called into federal service. The 
third unconverted regiment, the 3 7 2d 
Infantry, had not been a cohesive unit 
between wars since it was split among 
several states and corps areas. It had 
no commander and no true headquar- 
ters. The infantry Reserve officers, in 
the first two cases, would be no more 
unfamiliar with the arm and mission of 
the regiments than their permanent 
Guard officers were. In the third case 
they, like most of the Guard officers, 
would be entering upon acquaintance 
with the regiment as a whole with no 
appreciably greater disadvantages than 
the Guard officers. 

The command of these regiments 
and of the new Regular regiment, the 



OFFICERS FOR NEGRO TROOPS 



199 



366th Infantry, almost immediately be- 
came a question of vexing importance. 
While many white Guard units lost of- 
ficers and commanders through physical 
examinations and reclassification pro- 
cedures, few were in positions compara- 
ble to the Negro units. Regular 
officers could be supplied to the white 
units but the Negro units, if they were to 
remain all-Negro in command, had to 
rely wholly upon the few Guard and 
Reserve officers who were available. 
There were no Negro Regular officers 
who could replace officers from the civil- 
ian components. After Colonel Davis, 
commander of the 369th, ivas promoted 
to general, he was no longer available 
for regimental assignment; his son, Capt. 
Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., the only other 
Negro line officer in 1940, went, after 
brief duty at Fort Riley, into training 
in the Air Corps, and was thereby lost 
to the ground regiments. 

In some instances the regiments, so 
far as their top command positions were 
concerned, became enmeshed in compli- 
cations from which they never re- 
covered. The 8th Illinois Infantry lost 
its original commander, who as a mem- 
ber of the Illinois state legislature could 
not hold both positions under the stat- 
utes of the state. He therefore resigned 
and retired. The senior lieutenant 
colonel was found physically disquali- 
fied and he, too, was scheduled for 
retirement. Chicago Negroes became 
alarmed, fearing that upon induction 
the regiment would find itself, as had 
happened midway of World War I, 
with a white commander. An Illinois 
congressman suggested that the second- 
in-command be re-examined. 74 In the 

"Memo, OCS (Col Orlando Ward, SGS) for 
G-i, 7 Jan 41, OCS 80608-132. 



meantime, the governor of the state ap- 
pointed a new commander, who was 
found to be physically qualified. The 
regiment was inducted (as the 184th 
Field Artillery) on 6 January 1941 with 
its new commander in charge. 76 The 
re-examination of the disqualified com- 
mander remained pending and the 
permanent command of the regiment 
was in doubt. In the next few months, 
it developed that the governor's appoint- 
ee was not, in actuality, the next senior 
lieutenant colonel in the regiment. 
When, upon re-examination, the former 
commander was found permanently dis- 
qualified, Lt. Gen. Ben Lear, Second 
Army Commander, recommended the 
alternate lieutenant colonel— the true 
senior officer— for promotion, making 
the governor's appointee second-in-com- 
mand. The four months of entangled 
internal command problems were no 
boon to the development of good leader- 
ship in this regiment. 76 

The 366th Infantry was to be staffed 
entirely from eligible Reserve officers. 
Unlike Guard regiments, Regular regi- 
ments had no provision for the attach- 
ment of instructors. One white colonel 
and four lieutenant colonels, Regular 
Army, were therefore assigned to tem- 
porary duty during the period of organ- 
ization of the 366 th, the colonel to 
command and all five to remain "for 
such time as the Commanding General, 
First Army, considers necessary." 77 



"Memo, G-i for Ward, 7 Jan 41, AG 210.7a 
184th FA (1-7-41) (1); Memo, G-i for TAG, 11 
Feb 41, AG 291.41 (1-13-41). 

76 Ltr, SGS to Rep Raymond S. McKeough, 6 
Mar 41, and other exchanges in OCS 20602-132. 

"Memo, G-i for CofS, 8 Nov 40, AG 210.31 
ORC (11-8-40) (3); Ltr, TAG to Coflnf, 22 Nov 
40, and Ltr, TAG to CG Third Corps Area. Both 
in AG 210.31 ORC (11-8-40) M-A. 



200 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



The organizational period o£ the regi- 
ment, because of the delays in housing 
and other facilities incident to rilling 
most Negro units, lasted longer than had 
been expected. In July, when asked if 
the white officers could be dispensed 
with, the regiment had "just organized" 
its last battalion, was still short in es- 
sential equipment, and had had no unit 
training. 78 Because the white Regular 
officers were assigned rather than at- 
tached, they had displaced the Negro 
officers in the command of the regiment 
and of its battalions. G-i, while be- 
lieving that the Regular officers should 
remain until the regiment became a 
"going concern," was reluctant to allow 
this condition to continue indefinitely. 
It recommended that organization of 
the unit be expedited to allow the Negro 
field grade officers, whose existence and 
rank had been one of the arguments for 
starring the regiment with Negroes in the 
first place, "an opportunity to actually 
exercise command" during their year of 
active duty. 79 Throughout the year, 
however, First Army continued to 
recommend retention of the white of- 
ficers, saying "the Reserve Field Officers 
are not yet qualified to assume complete 
command at this time." 80 

A year after the activation of the regi- 
ment, it had four full colonels, three 
white and one Negro, and a fifth full 
colonel, white, under orders and due to 

T8 2d Ind, VI Army Corps to CG First Army, 9 
Jul 41, to Ltr, TAG to CG First Army, 18 Jun 41, 
AG 210.31 ORG (6-16-41) OE-A, based on Memo, 
G— 1 for TAG, 16 Jun 41, G-1/8165-490. 

™ Memo, G-i for CofS, 17 Jul 41, AG aio.31 
ORC. 

80 Ltr, VI Army Corps to CG First Army, 15 Sep 
41, and 4 Inds, AG 210.31 ORC (9-15-41) (11- 
8-40) (3) ; Ltr, TAG to CG First Army, 10 Feb 42, 
and subsequent exchanges in AG 210.31 ORC (2- 
7"4 2 ) • 



report, plus two additional white lieuten- 
ant colonels assigned. Its Negro offi- 
cers continued to be "understudy" com- 
manders. A new complication arose 
when the original white colonel of the 
regiment was relieved about 4 March 
1942, leaving the Negro colonel, now 
over age for troop duty, in command 
with four white officers, including two 
colonels, under him. This violated the 
policy on the assignment of Negro offi- 
cers. A new white commander was due 
to report and the Negro colonel was rec- 
ommended to be "immediately relieved 
from the regiment because of over age 
and be assigned to duty elsewhere, pref- 
erably at another station." If a Negro 
commander were desired, VI Corps rec- 
ommended, the next senior Negro 
officer, a lieutenant colonel, should be 
promoted, the white colonels should be 
relieved, with one remaining attached 
to assist and guide the new commander 
and to train one of the four Negro ma- 
jors for duty as executive. 81 Another 
year passed before this regiment, in- 
tended to be staffed entirely by Negro 
officers from the beginning, was so 
staffed. 

The 373d Infantry, after its first seven 
months of training, was reported as mak- 
ing little progress. Command of the 
regiment was again the central problem. 
The regimental commander, a 62-year- 
old Negro colonel who, it was reported, 
"is deficient in basic education, has 
displayed a decided lack of administra- 
tive ability, and appears to be ignorant 
of modern methods of training" was 
considered a liability. Moreover, the 
officers lacked confidence in the regi- 



m Inds to Ltr, Hq ETO and First Army, 16 Feb 
42, AG 210.31 ORC (11-8-40) (3). 



OFFICERS FOR NEGRO TROOPS 



201 



merit's three white National Guard 
instructors. With the exception of the 
senior instructor, they were not quali- 
fied, the officers felt, and the senior in- 
structor was useless to the regiment be- 
cause he was not being used efficiently 
by the regimental commander. 82 The 
colonel of the regiment was persuaded 
to request relief from active duty be- 
cause of age, the executive officer was 
recommended for reassignment, certain 
other officers were reclassified, and a new 
Negro commander, fresh from courses 
at Fort Benning, was brought into the 
regiment. 83 

Of the four original all-Negro regi- 
ments, only the 369th Coast Artillery 
avoided serious top command difficulties 
within the first year. In the case of the 
184th Field Artillery, later internal dif- 
ficulties in command may be traced in 
large measure to the initial command 
situation and the political implications 
involved. The long-confused command 
picture in the 366th Infantry, when the 
command responsibilities of the Negro 
"understudy" field officers were ques- 
tioned by subordinate officers and 
enlisted men and where the future of 
command responsibility in the "all-Ne- 
gro" regiment was in doubt, helped 
undermine command discipline and 
stunt the growth of initiative and re- 
sponsibility within the regiment. Com- 
mand and unified leadership in the 372d 
Infantry were further vitiated, even after 



82 Memo, OTIG for CofS, 17 Ocl 41, G-1/15640- 
118. 

83 Papers in OCS 21177-297 and G-i/ 15640-1 18. A 
white colonel from a Regular Negro regiment was 
later ordered to the regiment as "instructor," then 
as commander, but his orders were revoked. He 
was then assigned to Headquarters, Second Corps 
Area, with inspection duties for the 372d Infantry. 
G-i/ 15640-54, 25-30 Mar 42. 



the relief of the original commander, by 
the assignment of the regiment to its 
first mission: the defense of New York 
City and various points in its environs, a 
mission lasting for over two years and 
effectively splitting the regiment into 
small units. 84 To add to the command 
difficulties in these regiments, officer 
shortages continued for months and, in 
some cases, for over a year after the 
initial induction of the units. The 
372d Infantry, with a strength of approx- 
imately 3,000, over half of whom were 
totally untrained selectees, had a short- 
age of thirty officers, not including au- 
thorized overages, in September 1941. 85 
The 369th Coast Artillery, though re- 
ceiving all the Negro graduates of the 
Antiaircraft Officers' Candidate School, 
was still short twenty-seven second lieu- 
tenants in May 1942. This regiment 
went overseas with a shortage of officers. 88 
Nevertheless, on 30 September 1941, 
250 eligible Negro Reserve officers, of 
whom 150 were officers of the combat 
arms, remained uncalled to active duty. 
The 222 then on active duty represented 
less than half the available Negro Re- 
serve officers. 87 "The familiar reluctance 
of National Guard Commanders to req- 
uisition Reserve officers operates in this 
case as it does generally," Judge Hastie 
commented. 88 

34 Ltr, TAG to CG Second Corps Area, 13 Dec 
41, AG 370.5 (12-11-41) MC-C-M; Ltr, TAG to 
CG Second Corps Area, 26 Apr 42, AG 370.5 (4- 
22-42) MC-E-M. 

85 Msg, First Army to TAG, 8 Sep 41, AG 210.31 
ORC (9-8-41). 

88 Comd Pers Repl Req, 369th CA (A A) to TAG, 
10 May 41, 3d Wrapper Ind, Hq AAC to TAG, 3 
Jun 42, 341/B-99 (5-10-42), AG 210.31 (5-20-42); 
Ltr, Hq AAC to TAG, 12 Sep 42, AG 210.31 (2- 
14-42) (3) • 

87 TAGO Machine Rec Sec, 3 and 4 Nov 41, Tabs 
G and H in G-1/15640-120. 

88 Hastie Survey, p. 12, G-1/15640-120. 



202 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Officer Candidates 

The National Guard units had felt 
that they could supply officers from their 
own ranks and requested that they be 
allowed to do so. 89 The 369th Coast 
Artillery was granted permission to con- 
tinue its own officers' training school and 
to continue to have men commissioned 
during the period between federaliza- 
tion and the opening of officer candidate 
schools. 90 The regiments, though tak- 
ing some Reserve officers, expected to fill 
further vacancies from officer candidate 
school graduates, preferably chosen from 
among their own men. 

In the first months of the schools' op- 
erations Negro candidates were few. 
Between July 1941, when the schools 
opened, and mid-September 1941, only 
17 out of the 1,997 students enrolled in 
candidate schools were Negroes. Ten 
of these were candidates at the Infantry 
School, 1 each at the Field Artillery and 
Cavalry Schools, and 5 were at the Quar- 
termaster School. 91 In the next two 
months, only six more Negro candidates 
entered officers' schools. Two of these 
were in the Quartermaster School. 
The Infantry, Field Artillery, Ordnance, 
and Finance Schools each received one 
candidate. 92 

8S 4th Ind, Hq 369th CA (AA) NYNG to 
CofNGB, 18 Nov 40, to Ltr, NGB to AG of New 
York, 30 Oct 40, NGB 325.4 (CA) N.Y.-52; 6th 
Ind, Hq 184th FA to CG Sixth Corps Area, 22 
Jan 4t, to Ltr, NGB to AG of Illinois, 13 Dec 40, 
AG 210.31 ORC (12-31-40) M. 

60 Memo, CofS for CofCA, 10 Apr 40, OCS 19308- 
4; Ltr, Acting DCofS to Maj Gen W. N. Haskell, 
11 Apr 40; Ltr, NGB to AG of New York, 30 Oct 
40; Memo, OCNGB for Col Wharton, 28 Nov 
40. All in NGB 325.4 (CA) N.Y.-52. 

"Memo, TAG for Admin Asst OSW, 16 Sep 41, 
AG 2gi.2i (g-12-41) M. 

62 Memo, TAG for Civ Aide to SW, 18 Nov 41, 
AG 291.21 (10-30-41) RB. 



Judge Hastie, realizing that the dis- 
proportionately small number of Negro 
candidates, constituting less than 1 per- 
cent of the whole, would produce un- 
favorable reactions among the Negro 
public, urged a general revision of pol- 
icy on the use of Negro officers. He 
considered the small number of units in 
which Negro officers could be used and 
the limitation of Negro officers to units 
in which the entire staff was Negro to be 
major deterrents to both the appoint- 
ment of candidates and to the efficiency 
of leadership in units. He believed that 
mixing white and Negro officers in the 
same units was both inevitable and de- 
sirable. Competent Negro officers 
would not become available until Negro 
junior officers had been developed "in 
regular course" by being assigned to reg- 
iments then commanded entirely by 
white officers. "Moreover," he wrote, 
"in the general replacement of National 
Guard and Reserve Officers, who have 
not rendered satisfactory service, it is 
probable that numbers of field officers, 
colored as well as white, will be relieved 
of command. Experienced and quali- 
fied successors for numbers of these col- 
ored officers will necessarily be procured 
from available white personnel. The 
immediate effect of these procedures 
would be the intermingling of white and 
colored junior officers in units now com- 
manded by white officers exclusively, and 
in a few cases, white and colored field 
officers in regiments now commanded 
by an entire Negro personnel. Such a 
course seems necessary and desirable." 93 

Hastie felt that no increase in Negro 
officer candidates could be expected 

M Hastie Survey, G-i/ 15640- 120. See also Memo, 
G-i for TAG, 1 Jan 42, and attached Memo for 
Record, Incls, OCS 20602-239. 



OFFICERS FOR NEGRO TROOPS 



203 



through the normal operation of quotas, 
especially since most Negroes were in 
small units. "The realities of the situ- 
ation are that many Commanders in the 
field approach the selection of Officer 
Candidates with bias against the Negro 
as an officer in the United States Army," 
he declared. Since no plan existed for 
the use of Negro officers in certain 
branches, such as the Quartermaster 
Corps, Corps of Engineers, and Cavalry, 
in which large numbers of Negroes were 
being trained, commanders were prone 
to overlook potential Negro officer can- 
didates. "It is believed that nothing 
less than a directive or confidential mem- 
orandum to commanders charged with 
the selection of Officer candidates, indi- 
cating that certain minimum percentages 
of Negro candidates are to be selected, 
will be effective," Hastie concluded. 94 
In the meantime, prompted by the 
slowness of the development of Negro 
officer candidate training, Edgar Brown, 
one of the prominent Negro legislative 
lobbyists of 1939-41, suggested to the 
President and to the Secretary of War 
that nothing "would be more salutary 
for the morale and patriotism of 15,000- 
000 Negro citizens and soldiers," than a 
separate school for Negro officer trainees 
modeled on the Des Moines school of 
World War I. 95 A radio commentator 
picked up Brown's suggestion and broad- 
cast to the nation that "a large group of 
the most responsible Negro leaders in 
the country" were opposed to the Presi- 
dent's policy of training Negro officers 
with white trainees and had asked for 



91 Sources cited |n 

66 Ltr, Edgar G. Brown, President United Gov- 
ernment Employees, Inc., to President Roosevelt 
and to SW, 15 Oct 41, AG 291.21 (10-15-41) (1) . 



separate schools. 96 The reaction of Ne- 
groes was immediate. The NAACP 
called upon the White House and the 
War Department to reveal who the "so- 
called responsible leaders" were, adding, 
"We respectfully submit that no leader 
considered responsible by intelligent 
Negro or white Americans would make 
such a request." 97 A second telegram 
from the NAACP, signed by 47 Negro 
editors, college presidents, judges, bish- 
ops and ministers, businessmen, and 
heads of professional and fraternal or- 
ganizations, and accompanied by the 
promise of the names of as many more 
Negroes in opposition to the suggestion, 
indicated that the proposal had little 
backing among Negro leaders. 98 

To subsequent inquiries on the pos- 
sibility that separate officer candidate 
schools might be established, the War 
Department replied that separate 
schools would be uneconomical and in- 
efficient. "Our objection is based pri- 
marily on the fact that negro officer can- 
didates are eligible from every branch 
of the Army, including the Armored 
Force and Tank destroyer battalions, 
and it would be decidedly uneconomical 
to attempt to gather in one school the 
materiel and instructor personnel nec- 
essary to give training in all these 
branches," a senator was told. School 
troops, quarters, and staffs would have 
to be duplicated if two separate sets of 
schools were organized. The War De- 
partment seldom failed to point out, in 



m Fulton Lewis, MBS, 20 Oct 41, Daily Radio 
Digest, 21 Oct 41, AG 291.2 (10-21-42) (9). 

S7 Telg, Walter White, NAACP, to Secy Stimson 
and President Roosevelt, 23 Oct 41, AG 291.21 
(10-23-41) (3). 

88 Telg, Walter White to Secy Stimson, 29 Oct 
41, AG 291.21 (10-29-41) (1). 



204 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



explaining the small numbers of Negro 
candidates, that, in general competition 
with white candidates, Negroes were at 
a disadvantage since only 5 percent, in 
comparison with 45 percent of the 
whites, had the General Classification 
Test qualifications for admission to 
officer candidate schools. "It is more 
efficient to send these candidates to the 
regular schools of their respective 
branches where they take the same train- 
ing as white officer candidates," the de- 
partment declared. "Further, to make 
such a segregation of negro candidates on 
a fixed percentage basis rather than on 
ability would be a discrimination against 
white candidates," another inquirer was 
told." 



"Ltr, SGS to Senator Carl Hayden (Arizona) 
12 Dec 41, AG 35a (13-18-41) M; Ltr, G-3 to 
Representative James N. Fitzpatrick, 12 Dec 41, AG 
352 (12-12-41) MT. 



The meager production of new Negro 
officers before December 1941 had other 
explanations. The numbers of Negroes 
entering the Army had not yet reached 
the proportionate levels aimed for and 
the pools of reservists had not yet been 
exhausted. No revision of the Negro 
officer assignment policy had been made, 
and the relationship of the new officers, 
trained to be platoon leaders, to the old 
policy was vague. Nor had the relation- 
ship of Negro candidates to the problem 
of leadership for Negro troops in the 
new Army— in units which were now be- 
ing spread through all arms and services 
—been explored. For the use of Negro 
officers in general had not been looked 
upon as a potential answer to leadership 
problems. Rather, it was a use born of 
necessity and from which not too much 
was expected in the way of strong, firm, 
and effective leadership. 



CHAPTER VIII 



The Quest for Leadership Continues 



After Pearl Harbor the provision of 
Negro officers to fill needed leadership 
positions in Negro units received more 
serious consideration within the War 
Department. Throughout most of 1941 
the guiding principle in this effort was 
the requirement that Negroes be repre- 
sented in commissioned ranks in accord- 
ance with the policy statement of Octo- 
ber 1940. The officers so provided were 
to be given training for a year. They 
would then return to inactive duty or 
reserve status. The declaration of war 
altered these conditions completely. 
Negro units, steadily increasing in num- 
ber as a result of the operation of the 
Selective Service Act, now had to be 
viewed as a part of a fighting force in 
preparation for use in an actual war. 
Mounting shortages of white officers in 
all units increased the real need for Ne- 
groes to fill officer vacancies in Negro 
units. 

Plans After Pearl Harbor 

In early 1942 the War Department, 
acting in part upon Judge Hastie's rec- 
ommendations, 1 began to take steps to 
increase the numbers of Negro officers 



'Memo, USW for SW, 16 Jan 42, ASW 291.2 
(Race, Negro) ; Memo, USW for Judge Hastie, 17 
Feb 42, ASW 2912 (Race, Negro, Misc) ; Memo, 
DCofS for USW, 13 Feb 42, WDCSA 322.97 (11- 
21-42) . 



available for duty with troops. A com- 
plete revision of the policy of assign- 
ment necessarily resulted. For, if Negro 
officers were to be used in increasing 
numbers in existing and planned units, 
places and methods for their use had to 
be found. The policy of assigning Ne- 
gro officers to a limited number of units 
in a few branches and in units staffed 
exclusively with Negroes had to be modi- 
fied. 

In late January G-3 called a confer- 
ence of representatives of the arms and 
services to discuss their Negro officer re- 
quirements. Most arms and services 
had barely considered the matter, for, 
under persuasive pressures emanating 
from the General Staff, they were only 
beginning to visualize the use that they 
might make of their proportionate 
quotas of Negro enlisted men. What 
use each branch would make of Negro 
officers had to be determined before the 
War Department could embark on a 
program to increase the number of Ne- 
gro officer candidates. For, under Mo- 
bilization Regulations, the number of 
Negro officer candidates was governed 
by the officer requirements of the units 
to which Negro officers were to be as- 
signed. 2 The War Department's plan 
therefore contemplated the prior desig- 

3 MR 1-2, par. 13 b, 15 Jul 3g, reaffirmed in 
1943 in Memo, Hq AGF for G-i, 7 Apr 43, AGF 
352/72 and D/F, G-i, 8 Apr 43, WDGAP 322.99. 



206 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



nation of units in which Negro officers 
could be placed. 

Most branches, under the impetus of 
designating units for the use of Negro 
officers, shifted their focus from officer 
requirements to a consideration of the 
number of Negro officers which they 
thought they could absorb, duplicating, 
to some extent, the procedure which they 
were following in the provision of Negro 
units. The Quartermaster Corps report- 
ed that it had enough truck, companies 
to absorb all Negro lieutenants made 
available by its school. 3 The Corps of 
Engineers said that it could take its share 
of Negro officers in aviation battalions, 
separate battalions, replacement training 
center battalions, and divisional combat 
battalions, provided that the officers 
were all in the grade of lieutenant. 4 
The infantry could use enough to fill the 
two infantry regiments and enough in 
company grades to fill the infantry com- 
panies of the not yet activated 93d Divi- 
sion. Divisional officers would be pro- 
moted to higher grades and positions as 
they became "capable through training." 
The g2d Division would be filled in the 
same manner. All together, 1,098 Negro 
officers, constituting 4.19 percent of all 
infantry officers on duty with troops and 
2.58 percent of all infantry officers, could 
be used by the infantry in 1942. 5 

The Field Artillery, similarly, could 
use Negro officers to complete the staffs 
of the 184th Field Artillery, the newly 
activated 795 th Tank Destroyer Battal- 
ion, and the gun batteries of the two 



'Memo, OQMG for G-3, 3 Feb 4a, QM 35a 
P-MT (OCS). 

4 Memo, OCofE for G-3, ag Jan 4a, CE 320-2- 
TO. 

'Memo, OCoflnf for G-3, 28 Jan 4a, CI 210.31/ 
9879- 



divisions planned for 1942. 6 The coast 
artillery was prepared to fill the batteries 
of two 155-mm gun regiments with Ne- 
gro officers, which, with the 369th In- 
fantry, would make a total of 201 
officers for 1942. 7 The Medical Depart- 
ment brought out its existing plan, add- 
ing that the 93d Division at Fort 
Huachuca would have a complete Negro 
medical service and that for the post's 
hospital "The Surgeon General is will- 
ing in the interests of nondiscrimination 
to promote colored doctors, dentists, etc. 
to grades comparable in a like hospital 
set up for white patients providing of 
course that colored Medical officers are 
qualified to perform the duties. . . ." 
Therefore, no grades for Negro officers 
were specified by The Surgeon General, 
but he did point out that in regiments 
with white commanders the regimental 
surgeon should be white so that the 
white officers could have a physician of 
their own race. Medical administrative 
officers could be assigned to sanitary 
companies and as mess and supply offi- 
cers or detachment commanders at hos- 
pitals with Negro services. The Sur- 
geon General believed that his plan 
would provide vacancies, including 
higher grades for "all competent colored 
officers that will be available to the 
Army." 8 The Air Forces had already 
planned to use Negro flying and admin- 
istrative officers at Tuskegee and in the 
service units necessary for the operation 
of that base. 

Other arms and services had less well 



"Memo, OCofFA for G-3, 27 Jan 42, FA 210.31 
A-137- 

7 Memo, OCofCA for G-3, 27 Jan 42, AG a 10.31 
(2-14-42) (3) . 

8 Memo, SG for G-3, 30 Jan 42, Incl to Memo, 
G-3 for TAG, 18 Mar 42, AG 210.31 (2-14-42) 
(3)- 



THE QUEST FOR LEADERSHIP CONTINUES 



207 



formulated plans. Some were willing to 
activate units specifically for the purpose 
of absorbing Negro officers. The Ord- 
nance Department reported that it had 
but one Negro officer, a second lieuten- 
ant recently graduated from Aberdeen 
and, at the time, assigned to Raritan 
Arsenal. He would be held at the ar- 
senal until other Negro officers were 
available, whereupon all would be as- 
signed to companies. If enough officers 
were available, they would be assigned 
in full complements to ordnance com- 
panies, a group at a time; otherwise they 
would be assigned to companies in pairs 
as available. Initially, three ammuni- 
tion companies would be activated for 
the purpose of absorbing Negro officers. 
Additional assignments to ten other com- 
panies would be made as soon as loca- 
tions were found where other units with 
Negro officers were available to provide 
messing and housing facilities for the 
few officers carried by each ordnance 
company. 8 What the Ordnance Depart- 
ment proposed as a means of assigning 
Negro officers to units— simultaneously 
by groups or blocks, by providing units 
for them when none existed, and by loca- 
tions considered expedient— contained 
the basic elements of later War Depart- 
ment practices. 

The Signal Corps was of the opinion 
that "relatively few, if any" Negroes 
could meet its standards for assignment 
to tactical Signal Corps units. It recom- 
mended that all tactical units be officered 
exclusively by white officers and "that 
any colored officer who must be ab- 
sorbed" be assigned to Corps Area and 
War Department overhead, in depots, 



"Memo, OCofOrd for G-3, 27 Jan 42, CofOrd 
210.3/275. 



repair shops, or administrative offices. 10 
The Cavalry indicated that it would have 
no large use for Negro officers, since 
they could be used only at the cavalry 
replacement training center and in the 
reconnaissance troops of the Negro divi- 
sions in ranks not above lieutenant. 11 
The Regular cavalry regiments, like 
the Regular infantry regiments, already 
had all white officers under policies then 
current. 

The Provost Marshal General decided 
that in his four types of military police 
units, uses for Negro officers would be 
rare. Since there were to be no Negro 
armies or corps, Negro tactical military 
police units would be limited to divi- 
sions; those divisions which were colored 
"throughout" could have Negro mili- 
tary police and Negro officers. The 
Provost Marshal would "not object" to 
Negro officers in the zone of the interior 
units set up in the Second and Ninth 
Corps Areas. Since no colored prisoner 
of war escort units had been organized, 
the question of officers for them had not 
arisen, but if such units were organized 
the Provost Marshal would recommend 
against Negro officers since there were 
but two officers to a unit. Officers in 
these units normally messed with post 
administrative officers at prisoner of war 
camps and there were no Negro adminis- 
trative officers in these camps. In corps 
area service command units, Negro offi- 
cers could be employed in military police 
detachments, but the decision should be 
left with detachment commanders, de- 
pending upon local conditions. 12 

"Memo, OCSigO for G-$, 27 Jan 42, OCSigO 
210.31 Gen. 

11 Memo, OCofC for G-3, 27 Jan 42, Incl to 
Memo, G-3 for TAG, 18 Mar 42, AG 210.31 (2- 
H-4*) (3)- 

"Memo, PMG for G-3, 2 Feb 42, PMG 210.31. 



208 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



The Negro Officer Troop Basis 

G-3, from the information that it had 
gathered, proceeded to determine a pro- 
curement basis and to construct a troop 
basis for the assignment of Negro officers 
for 1942. This document provided for 
the assignment and grades of Negro offi- 
cers in units of the arms and services, in 
training units at replacement training 
centers, and in station hospitals. All 
assignments were to be in the grades of 
first and second lieutenant, except that 
possibilities for promotion up to the 
rank of colonel were provided in the 
Coast Artillery, Field Artillery, and In- 
fantry, and in the Medical Department, 
and that chaplains, to be Negro in all 
Negro units, could be promoted to what- 
ever rank tables of organization author- 
ized. Units in the Negro Officer Troop 
Basis would retain white officers until 
Negro officers became available. 13 

To assure an increase in the number of 
Negro officer candidates, commanders 
were directed to suballot proportionate 
quotas to Negro units and installations 
within their commands and to make 
every effort to secure qualified Negro 
candidates. 14 There was some expecta- 
tion that in the process of expansion the 
number of Negro officer candidates 
would grow to become proportionate to 
the strength of Negroes in the Army. 18 

After the beginning of the Volunteer 
Officer Candidate (VOC) program, un- 
der which potential officers not yet called 
by Selective Service could volunteer for 

M Memo, G-3 for CofS, 14 Feb 42, approved 7 
Mar 4s, AG 210.31 (2-14-42) (3) (5). 

" Ltrs, TAG to CG's, Chiefs Supply and Admin 
Svs, 24 Feb 42, ig Apr 42, AG 350 (2-21-42), AG 

353 (4-'3-4»>- 

10 Ltr, SW to Archibald MacLeish, Office of Facts 
and Figures, 27 Apr 42, WDCSA 291. a 1 (4-3-42) . 



officer training and remain free to return 
to their homes if not successful, the War 
Department discovered that few Negro 
applicants were being accepted and in- 
ducted. It reminded corps area com- 
manders of the "acute shortage of Ne- 
gro officers, especially in such technical 
branches as Field Artillery, Antiaircraft 
Artillery, Engineers, Chemical Warfare 
Service, Signal Corps, and Ordnance De- 
partment" and urged that they exploit 
the VOC program as a source of suitable 
Negro officer material for the branches 
in which the shortages would be most 
acute. Examining boards and draft 
boards were instructed to examine care- 
fully the educational and vocational 
backgrounds of all Negro applicants so 
that none with qualifications for officer 
training should be overlooked in the 
VOC program. 16 The Air Forces, which 
had on file several applications from 
Negro civilians who appeared to be 
highly qualified officer material but who 
could not be used by the Air Forces, 
was requested to forward their names to 
the Officers Procurement Section of the 
Reserve Division for possible use by 
other branches. 17 

The complex and detailed Negro 
Officer Troop Basis, listing the permit- 
ted grades in every unit to which Negro 
officers might be assigned, did not re- 
main fixed, not even during 1942. 
Changes were provided for in the origi- 
nal plan. G-3, in consultation with 
G-i, G-4, and the chief of the branch 
concerned, was authorized to substitute 
"like units" for those shown at any time 
prior to the actual assignment of Negro 

19 Ltr, TAG SOS to CG's Corp* Areas, 2 Jun 42, 
SPX 352 (5-21-42) OB-SPGA. 

17 Memo, G-i for CG AAF, 22 Jun 42, WDGAP 
322.99, G-i 291.2 (Alpha) . 



THE QUEST FOR LEADERSHIP CONTINUES 



209 



officers. 18 After the reorganization of 
the War Department in March 1942, 
the authority to make changes was de- 
centralized to the major commands, in 
consultation with each other where ap- 
propriate. 19 New units were added to 
the list to absorb excess graduates of 
some schools and to replace other units 
which had moved overseas, were alerted, 
or in which, for any other reason, a ma- 
jor change of officers was not considered 
feasible or desirable. Quartermaster 
truck companies, aviation, numbered 
821 to 845 inclusive, were added, for 
example, because all graduates of the 15 
July 1942 class of the Quartermaster 
OCS were allotted to the Army Air 
Forces and to units previously authorized 
to be filled; these Air units were needed 
to absorb the Negro members of that 
class. 20 Similarly, the Ordnance De- 
partment required additional units for 
its troop basis to take care of additional 
OCS graduates. 21 By July 1942, the An- 
tiaircraft Artillery Command had filled 
all of its units authorized Negro officers 
except the 369th Coast Artillery (AA) . 
The 369th had already gone overseas 
understrength, but it had fifty candidates 
in training. These officers were to be 
used to fill the 369th and then to fill 
additional units to be added to the ap- 
proved list. 22 The Corps of Engineers 
suggested adding 31 units, all general 
service regiments, separate battalions, or 



18 G-3/6457-444 file. 

u Memo, G-3 for CofS, 9 Mar 42, approved is 
Mar 42, AG 210.31 (2-14-42). 

"Ltr, TAG to CG's AAF and SOS and TQMG. 
27 Jul 42, AG 210.31 (7-21-42) MS-SPGA. 

21 D/F, MPD SOS to G-i, 6 Oct 42, SPGA O/ 
210.3 Ord (10-2-42) -14, AG 210.31 (10-2-42) 
(2-14-42) (3). 

M Ltr, Hq AAC to CG AGF, 23 Jul 42, AG 210.31 
(7-23-4*) (2-14-42) (3)- 



aviation engineers. Not all could be 
added, for some had been deleted or 
altered in the full troop basis, but 18 
new units, exclusive of air types, were 
authorized Negro officers. 23 As a tem- 
porary expedient to absorb excess offi- 
cers in field artillery, infantry, and 
cavalry, Army Ground Forces proposed 
that air base security battalions be au- 
thorized Negro officers in all grades and 
positions except commander and execu- 
tive. 24 When the 795th, the one tank 
destroyer battalion with Negro officers, 
was filled, including overstrength, AGF 
nominated four other tank destroyer bat- 
talions to receive Negro lieutenants. 25 
Sometimes the Negro Officer Troop 
Basis had to be altered because of an 
omission or other error, as when the 
245th Quartermaster Battalion (Serv- 
ice) , a Puerto Rican unit that already 
had all-Negro officers, was added to the 
list in April. 26 

The list of units to which Negro offi- 
cers could be assigned grew and fluctu- 
ated as more and more units and a more 
liberal supply of officers became avail- 
able. Priorities among authorized units 

29 Ltr, OCofE to CG SOS (Dir MPD), 3 Aug 42, 
CE SPEAM 210.3 (Engrs, Corps of), AGF 210.31 
(8-3-42), AG 210.31 (8-3-42) (2-14-42) (3); Ltr, 
TAG to CG's, CO's PofE's, Chief Armd Force, 
Chiefs Supply Svs SOS, 8 Sep 42, sub: Assgmt of 
Negro Offs to Engr Units, AG 210.31 (8-3-42) 
MO-SPGAO-M. 

31 Memo, Hq AGF for CofS, 12 Sep 42, AGF 
322.999/16 (Cld Trps); 1st Ind, Hq AGF to CG 
R&SC, 17 Sep 42, AGF 210.31 GN GAP-A (9-10- 
4»>- 

26 Ltr, Hq AGF to G-i, 29 Oct 42, AGF 210.31/ 
392; Ltr, TAG to CG AGF, 2 Nov 42, AG 210.31 
(10-29-42) OB-S-A. 

28 Ltr, Hq Puerto Rican Dept to TAG, 25 Apr 
42, 210.31-Gen, AG 210.31 (4-25-42) (2-14-42) 
(3) . The race of this unit was administratively 
determined, as men and officers were never clearly 
differentiated in Puerto Rican units by continental 
racial standards. 



210 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



for the assignment of Negro officers were 
worked out in some branches and com- 
mands. For example, Army Ground 
Forces established the following unit 
priorities for the assignment of Negro 
officers: 

Infantry 

1. 93d Infantry Division 

2. 9ad Infantry Division 

3. 758th Tank Battalion 

4. 24th Infantry 

5. 366th Infantry 

6. 367th Infantry 

7. 372d Infantry 
Field Artillery 

1. 184th Field Artillery 

2. 795th Tank Destroyer Battalion 

3. ggd Infantry Division 

4. g2d Infantry Division 

5. Field Artillery Replacement Training Center 
Cavalry 

1. 93d Reconnaissance Troop 

2. 92d Reconnaissance Troop 

3. 795th Tank Destroyer Battalion 

4. Cavalry Replacement Training Center 
Coast Artillery 

1. 369 th CA (AA) 

2. 99th and 100th CA (AA) , elements at Camp 

Davis, N.C. 

3. Tng Bns at Fort Eustis, Va. 

4. 99th and 100th CA (AA) , elements which 

have left Camp Davis, N.C. 

Within the 93d Division, the Chief of 
Infantry had already requested the fol- 
lowing priorities: 369th, 368th, and 25th 
Infantry, with the 369th at the top be- 
cause it was the one new regiment in the 
division, therefore permitting the least 
displacement of officers already as- 
signed. 27 

Nevertheless, the 1942 Negro Officer 
Troop Basis was not considered satisfac- 
tory. It was too restrictive, and be- 



27 Ltrs, Hq AGF to CG R&SC, 29 Apr 42, and to 
CG AAC, 29 Apr 42, both in AGF 210.31/88; 
Memo, OCoflnf for G-3, 28 Jan 42, CI 210.31/9879. 



cause of its relative inflexibility it was 
subject to too frequent amendment. In 
year's end conferences the policy of 1942 
was revised. The new policy continued 
to authorize the assignment of Negro of- 
ficers to previously designated units, but 
it attempted to clarify the methods and 
conditions for their assignment. Under 
the 1942 policy, methods of introducing 
new Negro officers into units already 
activated with white officers were not 
clearly defined, nor were sources of 
requisitions for them or jurisdiction 
over assignments always clear. Addi- 
tional categories of units, covering prac- 
tically all types, were agreed upon by 
the conferees, but the determination 
of specific units within those types was 
to be left to the command having juris- 
diction over the units. The designating 
authority would then report the units 
selected to the War Department. Over- 
head activities to which Negro officers 
could be assigned, while limited to those 
that had considerable numbers of Negro 
troops, were to be specifically listed. 
Assignments of Negro officers were to be 
made "in block" and not by individuals. 
Thus all attached officers, such as chap- 
lains and medical officers, were to be as- 
signed in groups in all authorized grades. 
When all Negro lieutenants were author- 
ized a unit, they were to be assigned in 
company or battalion groups depending 
on the size of the unit. Opportunities 
for the promotion of Negroes to higher 
grades than those initially authorized 
were to be provided by the accumulation 
of qualified officers of the arm or service 
concerned. When sufficient officers to 
staff a battalion or smaller unit became 
available they would be promoted in a 
block and assigned to a new unit in the 
grades w r hich the unit required. These 



THE QUEST FOR LEADERSHIP CONTINUES 



211 



officers could be held in pools while 
awaiting reassignment. 28 

This policy, instead of simplifying the 
operation of the Negro officer assign- 
ment policy over the existing rules as 
had been hoped, not only complicated 
the paper work involved but also made it 
more difficult to provide good leadership 
for Negro units. Neither of these con- 
siderations was paramount in the formu- 
lation of the new policy of assignment in 
groups by grades. The major aim was 
to provide Negro officers to units while 
inviting the least possible friction from 
combining Negro and white officers in 
the same units. The published policy 
included again a prohibition against the 
assignment of Negro senior officers, ex- 
cept chaplains and medical officers, to 
units having white officers in a junior 
grade. 29 The new policy intensified the 
assignment problem by making it more 
difficult to place Negro officers in units. 
It guaranteed, by its promotion provi- 
sions, low morale for officers once they 
were assigned. For now individual as- 
signments, reassignments, and promo- 
tions were predicated upon the availabil- 
ity of enough other officers qualified to 
fill a given unit in the grades required 
and not on the merit of the officers in- 
volved. 

The Negro Officer Candidate 
Supply 

Soon after the number of Negro stu- 
dents in officer candidate schools was in- 
creased in 1942, it became apparent that 

28 Memo, Chief of Off Br for Brig Gen White 
(ACofS G-i), 31 Dec 42, Tab A to Memo, G-i for 
TAG, 4 Jan 43, AG 210.31 (1-4-43) (1). 

»Ltr, TAG to All CG's, CinC SWPA, CinC 
Armd Force, CO's Base Corads, 10 Jan 43, AG 
210.31 (1-4-43) B-S-A.M. 



Negroes would not be able to fill all 
officer vacancies in Negro units in any 
event. The OCS requirement of a 110 
score on the Army General Classification 
Test removed automatically the great 
bulk of Negroes from consideration as 
potential officer candidates. Formal ed- 
ucational requirements removed others. 
In some quarters it was expected that so 
few Negroes would qualify as officer can- 
didates that the Army would have no 
real problem in employing the small 
numbers of Negroes who would finally 
graduate and be commissioned. 

Of the Army's 3,500,000 men in Au- 
gust 1942, 244,000 or 7 percent were 
officers, of whom 41,400 or 1.2 percent 
were OCS graduates. Of the 228,715 
Negroes then in the Army, only 817, or 
0.35 percent, were officers, of whom 655 
or 0.28 percent were graduates of OCS. 
"The foregoing figures," a Ground 
Forces staff officer asserted, "confirm 
our conclusion reached previously, i.e., 
the colored race cannot produce enough 
military leadership to officer the colored 
units. A good estimate would be that 
enough can be produced to meet 10% 
of the total requirements for colored 
units." 30 

While the conclusion that Negroes 
would be unable, in the time available, 
to supply officers for all Negro units was 
correct, figures alone could not fully re- 
veal the facts in the case. Negro officer 
candidates, chosen on the basis of unit 

*>M/S, AGF G-i to CG AGF, 12 Oct 42, in 
papers attached to Memo, Hq AGF for G-i, io 
Oct 42, AGF 322.999/26. At peak officer strength, 
in August 1945, there were 7,768 Negro male of- 
ficers, nurses, dieticians, physical therapists, war- 
rant officers, flight officers, and WAC officers in the 
Army and 687,496 Negro enlisted men and women. 
Of these, 6,140 were male commissioned officers. 
Stre ngth of the Army, 1 Jan 46, STM-30. See Table 



212 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



quotas, were rather more unevenly dis- 
tributed as to quality than appeared on 
the surface. Numbers and quotas and 
not potential leadership ability became 
the criterion for the acceptance of Ne- 
gro candidates. Some units, because of 
assignment by numerical availability 
practiced in many reception centers, 
were more than able to fill their candi- 
date quotas with men who not only had 
the required paper qualifications but 
who also possessed outstanding leader- 
ship abilities. Other units were unable 
to fill quotas with either type of man. 
Still others, struggling along with few 
men of the caliber required for their non- 
commissioned officer ranks, were reluc- 
tant to encourage their best men to 
apply for OCS. In certain cases, the 
best men themselves, knowing that a 
sergeancy carried with it little of the 
assignment and adjustment difficulties 
and risks of a second lieutenancy— which 
many soldiers considered the permanent 
rank of Negro officers— were reluctant to 
give up the known certainties and priv- 
ileges of their noncommissioned rating 
for the uncertainties of the officers' rank. 

Many Negroes felt that antipathy for 
Negro officers held by Southern civilians, 
by white enlisted men, and by white 
officers, was greater than antipathy for 
Negro soldiers in general. Stories, 
many of them apocryphal but others 
with a basis in fact, were legion, espe- 
cially in connection with difficulties en- 
countered with military courtesy, with 
obtaining transportation facilities while 
traveling on government transportation 
orders, with obtaining assignments to 
units once on post, and with housing, 
messing, and even laundry facilities for 
Negro officers. Many of these stories 
were in bad taste and, like most jokes, 



exaggerated for effect, but they are in- 
dicative of the Negro enlisted man's— 
and officer's— reaction to the status of 
the Negro officer. These reactions 
served to undermine attitudes basic to 
good discipline. 

Despite the fact that the AGCT re- 
quirement alone was sufficient to cut the 
potential number of Negro officer can- 
didates far below the proportion that 
the number of Negro enlisted men could 
have been expected to produce mathe- 
matically, by the end of 1942 the number 
of available Negro officers was beginning 
to exceed the number of available as- 
signments. For, as the over-all supply 
of officers began to increase, a concurrent 
reluctance to assign Negro officers to 
units— bolstered by reports of difficulties 
in units already so staffed— grew as well. 

Assignment Difficulties 

Aside from the limited number of 
units authorized them, other barriers to 
the assignment of Negro officers devel- 
oped. Of major importance were those 
arising out of the social matrix imposed 
by American racial attitudes. The 
Fourth Service Command, for example, 
reported that it had positions for Negro 
over-age officers, but that suitable hous- 
ing, messing, and recreational facilities 
were not available generally, for, in fact, 
"only makeshift arrangements have been 
made to accommodate colored chaplains 
in colored enlisted areas." 31 The 
Northwest Service Command indicated 

m Ltr, Hq~Fourth Sv Comd to TAG, 6 May 4a, 
4th SC 210.31-Gen (DF) (5-6-42) (3) . When 
Judge Hastie complained earlier that these "make- 
shift arrangements" were all too prevalent, the 
Chief of Chaplains and The Inspector General 
were of the opinion that conditions could not be 
too bad, since only one chaplain had complained. 
Since assignment to quarters and the provision of 



THE QUEST FOR LEADERSHIP CONTINUES 



213 



that it had potential vacancies for Negro 
officers in units along the Alcan High- 
way, but observed that it had no separate 
facilities and that no towns with Negro 
populations existed along the highway 
to provide social outlets. Each of the 
Negro battalions had a Negro chaplain, 
but the command wanted no additional 
officers. 82 The 733d Military Police Bat- 
talion, in which all white officers were to 
be replaced by Negroes, found itself 
moved from the northern part of the 
Ninth Service Command to the Southern 
Land Frontier Sector. The sector felt 
that the Negro officers could hardly be 
used as provost marshals in Phoenix or 
Tucson, or in Nogales, Calexico, and 
other border towns where action in co- 
operation with commanders and provost 
marshals of exempted stations, civil au- 
thorities, and a potentially anti-Negro 
civilian population was necessary. "I 
am closely in touch with the sentiment 
of the people in this Sector," Brig. Gen. 
Thoburn K. Brown wrote to Lt. Gen. 
John L. DeWitt, "and while they are 
beginning to be tolerant in their attitude 
toward colored troops, it is only because 
they have the greatest confidence in the 
officers commanding these colored 
troops. This confidence, I am sure, 
would not extend to colored officers." 33 

messing facilities was a responsibility of local com- 
manding officers and since Negro chaplains them- 
selves had not complained, both officers 
recommended that the War Department make no 
inquiries and take no action. Memo, Civ Aide to 
SW for TAG, 6 Sep 41, and 6 Inds, AG 291.21 

(9-6-4.) (2). 
"Ltr, NWSC to TAG, 11 Jan 43, AG 210.31 

(1-11-43) (> Jan 43) 0) • 

"Ltr, Hq SLFS WDC to CG WDC and Fourth 
Army, 20 Sep 4s, and Inds, 210.31, AG a 10.31 (2- 
14-43) (3) . General Brown was also commanding 
general of the 4th Cavalry Brigade; most of his 
ground units in the Southern Frontier Land Sector 
contained Negro enlisted personnel. 



No additional Negro officers were sent to 
this unit. The sixteen Negro officers 
already assigned were gradually trans- 
ferred to military police detachments 
and to other units. 34 Decisions that Ne- 
gro officers would not be welcome were 
not in all cases the product of local com- 
manders' impressions. Representations 
often came from communities them- 
selves. The entire Mississippi Congres- 
sional delegation, for example, sent a 
joint petition to the War Department 
requesting that no Negro officers be sta- 
tioned in Mississippi at all, and Georgia 
congressmen objected to stationing regi- 
ments with Negro officers at Camp Stew- 
art. 38 

Low Proficiency and other 
Limitations 

A second barrier to the full and free 
employment of Negro officers was a con- 
tinuing disbelief in their abilities. 
This disbelief was typified and re-en- 
forced by the progressive troubles of 
certain of the older, all-Negro staffed 
units, coupled with the firm conviction 
that Negro troops preferred service un- 
der white officers, or at least served better 
under them. 38 The attitude itself was 
responsible, in the long run, for so limit- 
ing opportunities to develop leadership 



"Memo, OPMG for MPD SOS, 23 Oct 42, SPAA 
370.093; Ltr, TAG to TPMG, 18 Nov 42, AG 
210.31 (9-20-42) PO-A, AG 210.31 (2-14-42) (3). 

"Rpt of G-3, Min Gen Council, 4 May 42, p. 6; 
D/F, G-3 for Hq AGF, and Memo, Hq AGF for 
G-3, 5 May 42, both in AGF 210.31/102; Memo 
for Record, 19 Mar 43, and M/S, Hq AGF, 19-20 
Mar 43, both in AGF 322.999/354 (Cld Trps) . 

M Memo, SGO Ping Sub-Div for Gen Love, 2 
May 41, SGO 291.2 (Negro Pers) 1941; Ltr, Maj 
Gen Fred W. Miller to Gen McNair, 8 Apr 43, 
AGF 322/1 (93d Div) , 



214 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



potentialities that it tended to become a 
self-proving proposition. 

No matter what other obstacles con- 
fronted the older tactical units in their 
development, the most evident thing 
about them was that they were all— or 
nearly all— Negro-staffed. When suc- 
cessive inspection reports showed rapid 
fluctuations in the status of the units— 
now a commendation for one training 
task, done well and a few months later 
a condemnation for the same or other 
tasks done poorly— the Negro officers 
were considered incapable of controlling 
their units to the point of maintaining 
them at a high level of efficiency in all 
departments at once. So many adverse 
reports on one unit came into Washing- 
ton that staff officers in G-3 and in AGF 
considered that it would always be "a 
source of trouble" so long as it continued 
intact in the same location and with the 
same officers. "Washout" the headquar- 
ters and "Shanghai the Colonel and the 
Chaplain to some remote part away from 
their political stamping grounds," Army 
Ground Forces Plans recommended. 37 
Of the commander of this unit, Lt. Gen. 
Ben Lear, commanding the Second 
Army, remarked later that "he has dem- 
onstrated his loyalty, a willingness to 
cooperate and interest and that he pos- 
sesses professional training and ability to 
the extent reasonably to be expected 
from a nonprofessional negro officer of 
his grade and experience." To this, Lt. 
Gen. Lesley J. McNair, commanding 
Army Ground Forces, commented: "In 
my view . . . report [s] on the regiment 
indicate rather clearly that the regi- 
mental commander is incapable of build- 
ing a satisfactory regiment. The fact 

"M/S, Hq AGF Plans to DCofS, 30 Aug 42, 
AGF 319.1/112, 



that he is loyal and willing does not 
make him competent." 38 But AGF de- 
murred when General Lear, arguing 
that no Negro replacements were avail- 
able, sought to remove the Negro com- 
mander and executive of another unit 
through reclassification proceedings in 
order to replace them with white officers. 
The War Department had established 
the unit as all-Negro and desired that 
opportunities for promotion of Negroes 
be kept open. "The problem of finding 
places to assign Negro officers of grades 
higher than lieutenant is becoming in- 
creasingly difficult," AGF said. "It is 
expected that additional units will have 
to be designated to have all Negro offi- 
cers at an early date." To clinch the 
point, AGF offered as a replacement for 
the reclassified commander or his execu- 
tive a Negro officer of field grade recom- 
mended for promotion by the Com- 
manding General, Third Army. 39 No 
more was heard of this particular reclass- 
ification proceeding. 

Continued dissatisfaction with the 
progress of Negro units later led General 
Lear, placing the blame squarely on Ne- 
gro officers, to request that no further 
Negro units be staffed with Negro offi- 
cers in the grade of major or higher. 
"Reluctantly I have come to the conclu- 
sion," he said, "that [Negro units'] un- 
satisfactory progress is largely due to 
deficiencies in leadership as demon- 
strated by many negro officers. . . . 
Their progress has been in direct pro- 
portion to the percentage of white offi- 



" ist Ind, Hq Second Army, to CG AGF, 9 Dec 42; 
M/S, CG AGF to AGF G-3, 29 Dec 42. Both 
in AGF 333.1/51. 

»Rad. Hq Second Army to CG AGF, 15 Feb 43, 
AGF Radio File-IN 396; Ltr, Hq AGF to CG Second 
Army, 17 Feb 43, AG sio.31/2 (TD) . 



THE QUEST FOR LEADERSHIP CONTINUES 



215 



cers assigned to the units. Those with 
all white officers have made reasonable 
progress; those with all negro officers are 
definitely substandard-" The request 
was approved "in principle" by AGF 
and by the War Department. 40 

A request that came from the Antiair- 
craft Command reinforced General 
Lear's recommendation. The 538th 
Antiaircraft Artillery (AW) Battalion, 
formerly the 2d Battalion of the 100th 
Coast Artillery (AA) , had come under 
the jurisdiction of the Antiaircraft Com- 
mand in a low state of morale, training, 
and general efficiency. For six months 
previously it had had Negro lieutenants, 
who were transferred out to fill other 
units. Though authorized Negro offi- 
cers, it had been assigned white officers 
temporarily since no Negro officers were 
available to the Antiaircraft Command 
at the time. Now the unit had im- 
proved considerably under its white 
officers and the command did not wish 
to return to Negro officers. 41 Ground 
G— 1 again remarked that it was becom- 
ing increasingly difficult to assign Negro 
officers. 42 

Developing doubts of their technical 
as apart from their administrative and 
leadership proficiency played their part 
in the reluctance to accept Negro officers 
in certain units. Sometimes intermedi- 
ate headquarters through which assign- 
ments had to go interposed objections 
to the placement of Negro officers even 
though they had received the required 
training. The chief of the Chemical 
Warfare Service was prepared to assign 

J0 Ltr, CG Second Army to CG AGF, 13 Apr 43, 
and MR attached, AGF 310.31/500. 

"Ltr, Hq AAA Comd to CG AGF, 4 Jun 43, 
AGF 810.31/531. 

"M/S, Off Div G-i to G-3, 8 Jun 43, AGF 
810.31/521. 



Negro officers to two smoke generating 
companies at Fort Brady, Michigan, but 
the Central Defense Command objected 
on the ground that only officers with ex- 
cellent meteorological backgrounds and 
a high degree of technical training could 
be used in these units. The Chemical 
Warfare Service then asked SOS if the 
Central Defense Command could object, 
since the units were on the War Depart- 
ment's approved list. G— 1, when que- 
ried, replied that the Central Defense 
Command would have to accept the 
officers, give them a trial, and, if it then 
found them unsatisfactory, use the nor- 
mal procedures for removal prescribed 
in Army Regulations. 43 The fear that 
requisitions, arriving when no Negro 
officers were available from pools, would 
be filled by substandard officers trans- 
ferred from overstrength units also op- 
erated to reduce assignment possibil- 
ities. 44 

Technically trained Negro officers, 
once initial vacancies were filled, were 
difficult to place. After the disband- 
ment of the junior of the two signal 
aircraft warning companies activated at 
Tuskegee in 1942, over two dozen Negro 
second lieutenants of the Signal Corps 
were left without assignments. Despite 
attempts to place them in other com- 
mands, suitable position vacancies were 
never found for all of them. 45 "There 
are only six units to which these officers 
could be assigned," AGF informed AAF, 
"and all of them are now 200% over- 



"Ltr, OCofCWS to CG CDC, 4 Feb 43, and 3 
Inds; D/F, G-i to TAG, 23 Feb 43. All in AG 
310.31 (1-4-43) (')• 

"Ltr, Hq 828th TD Bn to CG TDC, Cp Hood, 
13 Sep 43, AGF 310.31/571, 

"Ltr, Hq Tuskegee Army Air FJd to CG 
AAFSETC, Maxwell Fid, Ala., 37 May 43, and 2 
Inds, AAF 210.31 Signal Corps. 



216 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



strength." 46 While a few were later as- 
signed to signal construction battalions 
and to miscellaneous Air Forces units, 
the others were employed about the Tus- 
kegee station in various base capacities, 
ranging from assistants in base commun- 
ications through assistants in special 
services to officers in charge of specific 
barracks of the base unit. A few re- 
mained in these and similar jobs until 
the end of the war, unable to obtain 
suitable assignments, unable to put their 
training into practice, and hoping that 
a vacancy would occur in one of the units 
which could use them. 

Where overhead and staff positions 
were involved, new applications for spe- 
cialists were added. To the initial re- 
quest by Judge Hastie that considera- 
tion be given to the use of Negro officers 
in Judge Advocate General's Depart- 
ment functions, the stumbling block was 
their use in Negro divisions, which 
seemed to the Judge Advocate General 
to be a natural place for the use of 
officers who were lawyers. But the 
Ground Forces had an informal policy 
that "as long as the Division Com- 
mander is a white officer the heads of 
general and special staff sections of his 
headquarters should be white officers." 
AGF, while considering the advisability 
of using Negroes as assistant division 
judge advocates on a special allotment 
basis, advised that Negro officers for the 
judge advocates on a special allotment 
be employed elsewhere than in divi- 
sions. 47 After numerous protests on the 

19 Ltr, Hq AGF to CG AAF, 20 Jan 43; 1st Ind, 
Hq AAF to CG AGF, 9 Jul 43; 2d Ind", Hq AGF 
to CG AAF, 16 Jul 43. All in AGF 210.31/449. 

"Ltr, Civ Aide SW to G-i, 15 Aug 42; D/F, 
G~i for CG AGF, 17 Aug 42; M/S, AGF G-i to 
CofS, 19 Aug 42; tst Ind, AGF to G-i, 23 Aug 42. 
All in AGF 322.999/144. 



lack of Negro officers in the Judge Advo- 
cate General's Department, G-i, late in 
the war, directed the Judge Advocate 
General to arrange to use Negro lawyers 
as officers. The Judge Advocate Gen- 
eral's Office determined that six officers 
would be the most that it could place. 
The Military Personnel Division, Army 
Service Forces, then directed the Judge 
Advocate General to procure four officers 
for assignment to the Third, Fourth, 
Eighth, and Ninth Service Commands, 
since they had the largest numbers of 
Negro troops. But the service com- 
mands contended that these assignments 
would be "impracticable." Two officers 
were thereupon assigned to posts, one at 
Camp Claiborne and one at Fort Hua- 
chuca. The Army Air Forces was al- 
ready using one Negro officer as post 
judge advocate at Tuskegee. The other 
two field assignments were never made, 
though a third officer was used when one 
of the first two was assigned overseas. 48 

Mechanics of Assignment 

The policy of block assignments made 
the assignment of Negro officers no eas- 
ier. It had been designed to facilitate 
assignment and to minimize friction be- 
tween white and Negro officers which 
was expected to arise if Negro junior 
officers were sent individually to units 
which still had white officers in the same 
or lower grades. As practiced, it pro- 
duced more serious leadership crises 
than the inadequate assignment system 
that it supplemented. The simultane- 
ous removal of all white lieutenants 
from a unit and the substitution of Ne- 

"Ltr, MPD SOS to JAG, 25 Jun 45, SPGAO 
322.9 (Gen-25 Jun 45) -41; MS, Distribution of 
Military Personnel, I, p. 147, in OCMH. 



THE QUEST FOR LEADERSHIP CONTINUES 



217 



gro officers, most o£ whom were getting 
their first experience in command and 
some of whom might have been waiting 
for weeks in a pool while the group was 
being built to a large enough size for 
block assignment, not only suddenly de- 
stroyed on a unit-wide basis the leader- 
ship relations between officers and men, 
but often interrupted training, setting 
the unit back by several weeks in ex- 
treme cases; destroyed whatever esprit 
had been built up among the officers 
and men of the unit; and forced each 
element of the organization to alter its 
entire mode of operation. 49 The result- 
ing letdown in operating efficiency, disci- 
pline, and morale was often attributed 
to deficiencies in the new Negro officers 
when the method of substituting new— 
and in these cases quite different— offi- 
cers for the old, familiar troop leaders, 
schooled in their knowledge of the men 
of the unit, and the peculiarities of life 
for the unit under its particular head- 
quarters and on its particular post, was 
as often at fault. 

To lessen the effect of mass transfers 
of white officers out and Negro officers 
into a unit, commanders of armies, corps, 
and other field units having assignment 
jurisdiction over units were authorized, 
in 1943, to direct attachment rather than 
relief of white officers for a period of 
from three to six months. The retained 
white officers were to train the new Ne- 
gro personnel and help make the transi- 
tion from one group of officers to the 
other a smoother and more gradual proc- 
ess. 50 In units, the greatest care and 



"Min Gen Council, 12 Jul 43; Ltr, CG Second 
Army to CG AGF, 19 Feb 43, AGF 410.31/464. 

00 Ltr, CG Second Army to CG AGF, 19 Feb 43, 
AGF 210.31/464; Ltr, Hq AGF to CG's Armies, IX, 
XIII, XV Corps, II Armd Corps, AB Comd, Amph 



watchfulness had to be maintained lest 
the Negro officers become mere assistants 
to the older white officers, learning little 
and dissipating what sense of responsi- 
bility and initiative as well as military 
knowledge and self-respect they had 
brought with them upon assignment to 
the units. The units, in the meantime, 
had an excess of officers engaged in du- 
plicate duties. The division of control 
often affected these units adversely from 
top to bottom. 

As the numbers of Negro officers 
available began to exceed the numbers 
of vacancies allotted, and as the numbers 
of service units authorized Negro officers 
increased, the 25 percent overage of 
officers authorized the all-Negro units 
was extended to include all units with 
any Negro officers. In Quartermaster 
truck companies, authorized three lieu- 
tenants, the 25 percent overstrength was 
construed as permitting an additional 
officer. 51 In some units, the overages 
went far above 25 percent. Even with 
this provision, sizable numbers of Negro 
officers collected in pools. The policy of 
assigning Negro officers in groups rather 
than as individual replacements ac- 
counted for the presence of the larger 
number of unassigned Negro officers in 
organized pools, for assignment directly 
from schools to units had to be delayed 
until enough officers were gathered to- 
gether to fill an entire unit's allotted 
grades. Pools were expected to hold 
officers and at the same time enable them 



TC, AA Comd, DTC, MTC, R&SC, TDC, Chief 
Armd Force, 24 Feb 43, AGF 210.31/467. 

61 Ltr, OQMG to CG SOS, 13 Aug 42, and 
Memo, Dir Mil Pers SOS for CG AGF, 19 Aug 42, 
both in SPGAO/210.3 (8-13-42); D/S, G-i, 21 
Aug 42, WDGAP 322.99; D/S, G-3, n.d., WDGCT 
291.21 (8-13-42); 1st Ind, TAG to TQMG, 5 Sep 
42, AG 210.31 (8-13-42) OA. 



218 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



to continue their technical training. 
Special, separate pools for Negro officers 
were provided at Fort Huachuca and 
sometimes at the service schools. 52 At 
other times, Negro officers were simply 
retained at the schools, awaiting assign- 
ment. To await disposition, they were 
occasionally dispatched to a post, such 
as Tuskegee, where housing existed and 
where considerable numbers of other 
Negro officers were assigned. The 
pools, gathering and retaining large 
numbers of newly commissioned, inex- 
perienced officers for whom no assign- 
ments existed, became a source not only 
of low officer morale but also of many 
of the leadership difficulties experienced 
later by and with Negro junior officers. 
Often there were more officers gathered 
at a given post or center than could be 
absorbed by available housing or by 
available training assignments. "This 
is a situation which tends to breed dis- 
content and to induce a state of mind 
where minor incidents are exaggerated, 
and a tendency toward carping criticism 
developed among officers who are not 
sufficiently busy to occupy their minds," 
one training center commander ob- 
served of his Negro pool officers. 63 

As a result of the scarcity of authorized 
position vacancies, plus the tendency to 
assign and retain white junior officers in 
Negro units, certain Negro organizations 
suffered from an excess of officers while 
others, at the same time, had a shortage. 

12 Ltr, Hq AGF to Hq FA RTC, Ft. Sill, Okla., 
24 Feb 43, AGF 210.31 GNRSP; Ltr, OTSG SOS 
to Dir Tng SOS, 10 Mar 43, AG 210.31 (4 Jan 43) 
(i); Ltr, R&SC to Hq AGF, 17 Nov 43, AGF 
210.31/449. 

ra Ltr, Hq ERTC, Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., 13 
Jul 43, and 1st Ind, Hq Seventh Sv Comd to CofE, 
27 Jul 43, OCofE 291.2. See also Ltr, Hq FA RTC, 
Ft. Sill, Okla., to CG AGF, 15 Jun 43, AGF 210.31/ 
539- 



As early as August 1942, when many 
other Negro units were reporting officer 
shortages, the 93d Division was being 
swamped by the daily arrival of new 
lieutenants. Housing and messing fa- 
cilities available to the division at Fort 
Huachuca could accommodate 636 offi- 
cers of all grades, but the 93d had 644 
lieutenants alone. "Many lieutenants 
are sleeping two and three in a room in 
some organizations. . . . The problem 
of training the increasing number of 
new arrivals is difficult," the division 
reported in a request that no more lieu- 
tenants be assigned. 54 A year later, 
when many Negro air base security bat- 
talions were disbanded, their 330 white 
and 238 Negro officers had to be given 
new assignments. The white officers 
were divided among RTC units and 
Second Army field units. The Negro 
officers, with the exception of 27 men, 
were divided equally between the 9 2d 
and 93d Divisions, with the result that 
the 93d Division again had a large officer 
surplus. 55 

Occasionally, schools had no requisi- 
tions at all for Negro graduates and au- 
thority to assign them had to await War 
Department decisions. 58 Negro over- 
age and limited service officers, for 
whom few assignment vacancies in over- 
head and staff duties existed, contrib- 
uted numbers of officers to pools. 57 
Some of these men were disposed of by 
assignments to USO liaison, ROTC, and 

"Ltr, CG 93d Inf Div to CG AGF, 11 Aug 4a, 
and 2 Inds, AGF 210.31/1 (93d Inf Div) . Some of 
these officers were intended to serve as cadre for 
the 92 d Division. 

W M/S, AGF Inf Br G-i Sec to Off Div AGF, 
28 Sep 43, AGF 210.31/576 (1943). 

66 Ltr, OQMG to CG SOS, 26 Jun 42, SPQPO 
210.31. 

Ltr, TIG to CG R&SC, 22 Jul 43, and 14 Inds, 
dated to 5 Dec 43, AGF 210.31/545. 



THE QUEST FOR LEADERSHIP CONTINUES 



219 



special service duties, for which not all 
so assigned were fitted either by temper- 
ament or training. "Made jobs," such 
as assistant directors of schools, town 
"liaison" officers, advisers to various 
staffs or headquarters, roving inspectors, 
and "special" officers of various types, 
were sometimes devised for over-age and 
limited service officers of higher ranks. 

The difficulty of assigning them to 
T/O jobs was obvious to many Negro 
officers, for often on the same posts 
where certain Negro units had enough 
officers to fill nearly every vacancy twice 
over, there were other units which had 
either too few officers or which had white 
officers only. Nearly every supernumer- 
ary Negro officer knew or thought he 
knew of a unit or a job where he could 
have been used to greater advantage than 
in the "extra" position in which he 
found himself. The policy of unload- 
ing excess officers into particular units 
while retaining white officers or allowing 
T/O vacancies to remain in other units 
was a major contributing factor in the 
low morale of Negro junior officers. 

Negro Officers' Leadership 
Dilemma 

Restrictions on their activities, even 
when Negro officers were assigned to 
positions where their services were 
needed, were central factors operating 
to reduce their efficiency and usefulness. 
The grade, assignment, and promotion 
policy had been instituted as a means 
of providing greater opportunities for 
Negroes to serve as commissioned offi- 
cers. But the policy by which Negro offi- 
cers could serve in designated units and 
grades only, and by which no Negro 
officer was supposed to outrank or com- 



mand any white officer in the same units 
limited these same opportunities. 
Negro officers considered the entire pol- 
icy "discriminatory and unjust," General 
Davis reported. The policy confirmed 
"a different status for colored officers, 
[who feel] that, since they are called 
upon to make the same preparation and 
sacrifices, the promotion and assignment 
policy should be the same for all offi- 
cers." 58 It gave an overt sanction to 
theories that no Negro, no matter how 
competent, could perform assigned du- 
ties better than any white man, no mat- 
ter how incompetent. It confirmed in 
the minds of enlisted men the belief 
that their Negro commissioned leaders 
were not full-fledged officers in the first 
place, thus further confounding leader- 
ship problems. It created invidious 
and ineradicable distinctions between 
officers in the same units. 

At the outset grade restrictions, cou- 
pled with the large numbers of over- 
strength and non-T/O vacancy officers in 
the same units, effectively blocked pro- 
motions. Later, authority to transfer 
eligible Negro officers to other units 
where they could fill higher grades was 
granted. This policy, interpreted as 
barring promotion unless officers trans- 
ferred from their units, was "a body 
blow to their morale and efficiency, as 
well as to organizational esprit," a com- 
manding general of the 93d Division 
observed. "It also caused a loss of con- 
fidence in leadership which was not con- 
fined to leadership in the 93d Division. 
They felt that the War Department had 
broken faith with them." 59 It gave 
sanction for the feeling among Negro 

w Memo, Gen Davis for TIG, 7 Aug 43, AGF 
210.31/449. AG 310.31 (4 Jan 43) (1). 

69 Ltr, Maj Gen F. W. Miller to Lt Gen L. J. Mc- 
Nair, 8 Apr 43, AGF 322/1 (93d Div) . 



220 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



officers that development of ingenuity 
and assumption of responsibility in their 
units were useless. 

The policy, coupled with the social 
pressures and sanctions of which it was 
born, was responsible for additional 
practices which damaged officer morale 
and the development of good leadership. 
At Camp Shelby, in 1944, 11 Negro 
officers were assigned to overhead duties 
as personnel consultants, 9 with a special 
training unit, 1 as an assistant special 
service officer, and 1 as commander of 
the post's Negro casual detachment. 
The last two, by approved classification 
standards, were misassigned from the 
beginning. The nine had no direct 
contact with the white enlisted cadre 
which operated the units. All sugges- 
tions and recommendations which they 
made had to be passed on to the white 
cadre by a white officer "who is chief 
personnel consultant despite the fact 
that in one battalion he is unqualified for 
the work and in all battalions [he] is 
junior to the other officers who are his 
assistants." 80 The Negro officers, when 
they should have been at their primary 
duties, had two additional duties to per- 
form: athletic supervision and orienta- 
tion presentations. No other officers 
and no cadre men assisted in those 
duties. The further training and effi- 
ciency of these officers were limited by 
post restrictions. They were not al- 
lowed to attend the post-operated school 
on courts-martial; their quarters, mess, 
and recreational facilities compared un- 
favorably with those of white officers of 
similar rank; their contact with other 
officers and consequently the possibility 

"Memo, Tng Inspector for Dir Mil Tng ASF, 
n.d., but inspection of 4-8 Jun 44, ASW sqi.s Cp 
Shelby. 



of their learning by example from other 
officers was sharply curtailed by the oral 
appointment of one of their number— 
an officer junior to all but two of the 
group— as "spokesman." The spokes- 
man was responsible for making all con- 
tacts with the headquarters to which 
these officers were assigned. One bat- 
talion commander, when questioned 
about the propriety of ignoring seniority 
in these cases, replied that "this was 
Mississippi and he was not concerned 
over the seniority of Negro officers." 61 
It would hardly be expected that these 
officers could develop into able leaders. 

Mixed Staffs and Their Problems 

A major barrier to the development 
of leadership in Negro units lay in the 
use of white and Negro officers in the 
same units under conditions which em- 
phasized differences in officers' origins 
rather than similarities in their goals 
and responsibilities. These conditions 
were reinforced and made official 
by shifting policies which, having pre- 
scribed a differential for the assignment 
and promotion of Negro officers, pro- 
ceeded to expand the boundaries of the 
limitations imposed by providing for 
the eventual though not guaranteed re- 
placement and transfer of white officers. 
Therefore neither white nor Negro 
officers were secure with respect to 
continued duty, responsibility, or ad- 
vancement within a given unit. Nor 
were they secure in their relations with 
each other. In these units, the leader- 
ship of men became secondary to the 
preservation of personal interests and 
status. 



n Ibid. 



THE QUEST FOR LEADERSHIP CONTINUES 



221 



Mixed staffs had certain advantages. 
They provided a leaven of experience 
and some instruction, if by no other 
means than by example, for newly com- 
missioned officers. They increased the 
possibility of filling staffs in many units 
that otherwise would have limped along 
with officer shortages. Through their 
commanders, they facilitated co-oper- 
ation between white and Negro units of 
similar types which might not have ex- 
isted otherwise. In those instances 
where the commanders and higher staff 
members looked upon the leadership of 
the unit as a profitable military and not 
a revolutionary social venture, they af- 
forded the possibility of sufficient con- 
tact between white and Negro officers to 
enable both the unit and the officers to 
gain benefits from the greater experi- 
ence, training, and confident stability of 
the one group as well as from the 
greater knowledge and understanding 
o£ racial problems and practices of the 
other. The two officer groups in these 
cases worked together to the mutual 
benefit of each other and of the unit. 

But mixed staffs could have equally 
marked disadvantages. There were 
times when the functioning of many 
mixed staffs appeared to be about to 
break down completely. While many 
commanders, through the force of their 
own personalities and their own high 
standards of leadership, were able to 
weld excellent working teams from 
units with mixed officers, there were 
others who found themselves caught up 
in a maelstrom of personal animosities 
born of and fostered by racial taboos 
and tensions. At times the split in staff 
relations, resulting from long standing 
social customs reinforced by the physi- 
cal separation of housing, messing, and 



club facilities and from policies that as- 
signed all white officers to headquarters 
staff and unit command positions and 
all Negroes to platoon leader positions, 
was almost inevitable. At other times, 
it was clearly preventable. But in 
either event, the difficulties of these 
units, rather than the successes of other, 
and generally smaller, units came to the 
attention of higher headquarters and 
caused grave doubts about the wisdom 
of mixed staffs. 

The feeling of white officers that 
service with Negro troops involved addi- 
tional and onerous duties was accentu- 
ated in many units with mixed staffs. 
Psychological tensions often appeared 
on both sides. Neither Negro nor 
white officers, as a group, either by 
training or by prior civilian experi- 
ences, had learned to work normally 
and naturally together. The con- 
scientious white officer found the neces- 
sity of being constantly on his guard, 
constantly aware of the new and re- 
stricted world of racial discriminations 
and sensitivities which he had unwit- 
tingly, and often unwillingly, entered, 
an additional burden which he often 
came to consider hardly worth the bear- 
ing. Extra duties, in addition to more 
intensive and longer training schedules, 
sometimes fell to the lot of white of- 
ficers assigned to units with mixed 
staffs simply because of the presence of 
Negro officers. At some posts, white 
officers only could be assigned to such 
duties as officer of the day, town patrol 
officer, officer of the guard, post exchange 
inventory, finance certification officer, or 
to other routine, rotating duties. Some 
headquarters, requesting labor or other 
special details from Negro units, stipu- 
lated that the men be in charge of a 



222 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



white officer. The services of white of- 
ficers on these hardly to be sought for 
but nevertheless necessary tasks came 
more frequently, therefore, if they were 
assigned to a unit whose Negro officers 
were exempted from duties in which 
they might encounter "delicate situ- 
ations." 62 Negro officers, by the same 
token, felt that they were being ignored 
or overlooked in the full performance 
of the duties of an officer. Often they 
were certain that preferred duties were 
being denied them. At times they at- 
tributed to racial prejudice the distribu- 
tion of unpleasant duties and extra de- 
tails within the unit. 

One commander, after pointing out 
that certain duties could not very well 
be allotted Negro officers, protested that 
"It has been my policy in the sixteen 
months I have had this regiment that 
there shall be no discrimination based 
on race, color or creed. All officers of 
the regiment use the same messes, 
sleeping accommodations, and bath 
houses. ... I believe [the] one cause 
for friction is the mixing of junior white 
and colored officers." But sensitive 
duties involving the civilian population 
and other units were not given to his 
Negro officers. 63 Other units solved 
this portion of their problem by requir- 
ing both white and Negro officers to per- 
form the same "unpleasant duties with- 



82 Hall, "Race Prejudice and Negro-White Rela- 
tions in the Army," The American Journal of 
Sociology, LII (March, 1947) ; Memo, Tng Inspec- 
tor for Dir Mil Tng ASF, n.d., but inspection Jun 
44, ASW agi.a Negro Troops; Ltr, CO Station 
Hospital, Cp Livingston, La., to TAG, 9 Jun 41, 
Tab D to Memo, G-i for CofS, 4 Aug 41, G-i/ 
15640-54; 2d Ind, CO Station Hospital, Cp Liv- 
ingston, La., 13 May 41, to TAG Ltr, 1 May 41, 
AG 210.31 ORC (4-29-41) R-A. 

1st Ind, Hq 364th Inf to TAG, 25 Apr 44, 
OPD 322.97/40. 



out reference to color," applying the 
same standards to both, and by removing 
"those who failed to measure up to 
army standards, regardless of color." ff4 
When the responsibilities and duties of 
officers were allotted and shared by 
Negroes and whites as officers rather 
than as two varieties of officers, little 
difficulty arose from this source of fric- 
tion and better leadership developed. 

Housing and messing problems 
plagued many units without regard to 
the unit commanders' desire in the 
matter. In general, the initial Army 
pattern was to house and mess Negro 
and white officers separately, though in 
later years of the war in many units and 
installations this tended to modify itself 
to housing and messing by rank, by 
senior choice, or by priority of arrival. 
Requests, such as Fort Bragg's for 
$14,221.70 in April 1942, to provide an 
additional barracks for Negro officers to 
"afford equal and separate accommoda- 
tions for white and colored officers" were 
not unusual. 05 Providing separate fa- 
cilities if officers were to be segregated 
militated against the assignment of Ne- 
gro officers to units so located that sep- 
arate housing was not available. 
Complaints that Negro officers arrived 
without forewarning at certain posts 
were often based on the necessity for 
providing separate facilities in advance. 66 
In some instances, one or two Negro offi- 
cers occupied an entire standard bar- 
racks in spacious solitude. In others, the 

81 Hist 100th Ord Bn (Ammo), 4 May 1942-9 
May 1945. 

06 Ltr, Hq Ft. Bragg, N.C., to CG Fourth Corps 
Area, 4 Apr 42, app. 4th Ind, Hq AGF, 22 Apr 42, 
AGF 600.12/470. 

"Ltr, Second Army to Hq AGF, 6 Jan 43, and 
Memo, Hq AGF to Dir Mil Pers SOS, 8 Jan 43, 
both in AGF 210.31 GNGAP-B (1-6-43). 



THE QUEST FOR LEADERSHIP CONTINUES 



223 



two or three Negro officers who hap- 
pened to be assigned permanently to a 
post's overhead, to a station complement, 
to a band, or to a quartermaster service 
or a medical sanitary company, were 
given a small house, usually removed 
from the main housing areas of the post, 
to use as quarters. In still other cases, 
Negro officers were housed and messed 
with Negro enlisted men.* 7 Chaplains, 
often the lone Negro officers in a unit or 
on a post, had especial difficulties with 
billeting and messing. 08 Payment of 
membership fees in clubs and messes 
was at times required by posts which 
did not expect Negro officers to use 
these facilities, but practices in various 
localities varied from the free use of all 
facilities through the use of designated 
or agreed upon tables and areas to the 
use of enlisted men's messes and quar- 
ters or none at all. To an early inquiry 
from Judge Hastie on the Army's posi- 
tion on the use of facilities by Negro 
officers, G-i replied: 

The Army has always regarded the 
officers' quarters and the officers' mess as the 
home and the private dining room of the 
officers who reside and eat there. They are 
an entity within a military reservation 
which has always enjoyed a minimum of 
regulation and the largest possible measure 
of self-government. The War Department 
considers this to be a fundamentally correct 
conception. Both from the standpoint of 
practice of long standing and from the 
standpoint of propriety, the War Depart- 
ment should be most reluctant to impose 
hard and fast rules for every human 

<" Ltr, Hq Sec I, 2138 AAF Base Unit (8 Negro 
officers) to TIG, 30 May 44, AAF 250.1 Morals 
and Conduct, #3; Ltr, Off, Hq 2d Bn 364th Inf, 
4 Apr 44, OPD 322.97/140. 

08 Memo, Civ Aide to SW for TAG, 6 Sep 41, 
and 6 Inds, AG 291.21 (9-6-41) (2); Memo, TIG 
for Chief of Special Inspection Div OTIG, AG 291.2 
(8 Mar 43) (1). 



relationship involved in the operation of 
officers' messes and officers' quarters. For a 
variety of reasons, problems arising in the 
officers' home cannot be solved by fiat." 9 

One result was that, in many units, 
especially the larger ones, little contact, 
"even for discussion of, and conversa- 
tion pertaining to, professional subjects" 
existed among white and Negro officers. 70 
In other cases, where rigid lines of de- 
marcation between officers were main- 
tained, the Negro officers became allied 
with their enlisted men against the 
white officers, a situation leaving white 
senior officers with lessened control 
over their units. At other times 
white officers were supported by Negro 
enlisted men against the Negro officers, 
especially in those cases where Negro of- 
ficers, assigned in blocks, attempted to 
assert control in organizations whose 
higher ranking noncommissioned of- 
ficers had formerly had carte blanche 
in the operation and regulation of the 
"domestic" life of the unit. In neither 
case could a high state of discipline or 
of effective training be achieved. 71 As 
for leadership: under such circum- 
stances, it could hardly exist at all. 

The separation of officers by race in 
the use of facilities remained a stum- 
bling block in the development of offi- 
cer esprit and unified leadership, but 
the War Department continued its re- 
luctance to invade what it considered to 
be the sphere of local and unit com- 

w Memo, G-i for Judge Hastie, 15 Sep 41, AG 

291.21 (9-15-4O (!)• 

70 Memo, Gen Davis for TIG, 7 Aug 43, AGF 
210.31/449. 

n Hist 100th Ord Bn (Ammo) 4 May 42-g May 
45; AGF M/S, Ground G-i to Sec, 31 Jul 43, AGF 
322/2 (gsd Inf Div) ; 1st Ind, Hq 364th Inf to 
TAG, 25 Apr 44, to Ltr from Off, Hq Co ad Bn 
364th Inf, APO g8o, 4 Apr 44, and statement of 
to CO 364th Inf, 21 Apr 44, OPD 322.97/40. 



224 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



manders' responsibility. At Fort Hua- 
chuca, where colored and white officers 
of the 93d Division were reported in 
1942 to "eat in the same mess, live in the 
same barracks, serve in the same com- 
panies and apparently are striving to the 
end of making an efficient fighting divi- 
sion," the construction of separate clubs 
for white and Negro officers was an initial 
source of friction. General Davis re- 
ported to The Inspector General that 
while the garrison at Huachuca may 
have been large enough to require two 
clubs, commanders "could have met the 
problem without these clubs having 
been designated as clubs for either white 
or colored officers." 72 General Davis 
recommended, with Maj. Gen. Virgil L. 
Peterson concurring and General Mar- 
shall approving, that in large camps 
where the garrison was predominantly 
Negro the War Department provide no 
facilities for the exclusive use of white or 
Negro personnel "but that the disposi- 
tion and use of these facilities be left to 
the decision of the local commanders 
who are most familiar with the racial 
problems involved." 73 

While this policy decision removed 
War Department sanction from the prac- 
tice of designating facilities by race in 
the few instances where large camps 
had predominantly Negro troops, it 
brought no change in general practices. 
It merely made it all the more essential 
that commanders of Negro units be men 
of more than ordinary wisdom. Some 
units were able to solve the problems of 
housing, messing, and club facilities to 



7a Memo, TIG for CofS, 6 Aug 42, AG 333.1 Ft. 
Huachuca (8-6-42) (1). See below, [ch. XI1.I 
73 Memo cited n. 72. 



the complete satisfaction of their staffs; 
others were in constant turmoil over one 
or another phase of these purely social 
matters which, though nonmilitary in 
a strict sense, affected profoundly the 
military training and performance of 
units. They symbolized the lack of 
trust, faith, and belief in the equality of 
men which existed within many of these 
units. There were units which devel- 
oped their oivn small messes into clubs 
for the use of the officers of the unit 
only. There were others in which un- 
skilled leadership practices in the 
purely social areas ruined, to a large ex- 
tent, the efficiency of units long before 
they reached a port of embarkation. 
At least one large combat unit spent 
nearly two years in a wrangle over the 
status of Negro and white officers cul- 
minating in the arrest of over one hun- 
dred and the trial of three Negro officers. 
Thereby, almost without reference to 
other factors, the unit remained uncom- 
mitted to combat at the close of the 
war. 74 

Despite an obvious desire on the part 
of higher headquarters not to interfere 
in these problems, their effect upon 
units and upon unit leadership rather 
than questions of efficiency in training 
or leadership ability in the abstract, 
were at the core of the difficulties of 
many Negro units. The result in some 
areas was that some commanders recom- 
mended that the Army return to its 



™ "Ad Equum Rescribere" ["The Training of 
Negro Combat Units by the First Air Force"], Hq 
Air Defense Comd, Mitchel Field, N.Y., History of 
the First Air Force, Monograph III, May 46, Air 
Hist Gp, 420,04; Hist 477th Bombardment Gp 
(Med), all installments and versions, AF Archives; 
Papers in ASW 291.2 NTC and ASW 291.2 Alpha. 



THE QUEST FOR LEADERSHIP CONTINUES 



225 



policy of using all white or all Negro of- 
ficers only in a given unit. 75 

That this was no solution was clear 
to those who had a larger view of the 
provision of leadership for Negro troops. 
In the first place, there were units with 
mixed officer staffs which were not sub- 
jected to internal rancor. Most of the 
tank, tank destroyer, engineer, and 
smaller service units had little trouble 
of this sort. In the second place there 
were units with all white and all Negro 
staffs whose problems of leadership 
were as great as or greater than those 
with mixed staffs. Moreover, with the 
bulk of Negro officers newly commis- 
sioned and with the general shortage of 
officers, the use of mixed staffs was 
the only logical policy to follow. The 
success of one or another practice in the 
provision of officers depended primarily 
upon the officers concerned and, most of 
all, upon the commanders under whom 
they served. Those commanders who 
themselves were willing to make an at- 
tempt to erase the causes of internal dis- 
cord within the units with mixed staffs 
and who sincerely believed that those 
causes could be eliminated achieved 
greater success with mixed staffs. Not 
enough commanders of this sort were 
available to guarantee the smooth func- 
tioning of most units. Under the cir- 
cumstances, it was easy to conclude that 
the mixed staff was an undesirable 
emergency measure which should have 
been avoided at all costs. 



n ^d Ind, 28 Apr 44, to Ltr, Hq Co 2d Bn 364th 
Inf, APO 980, Lt Gen S. B. Buckner, Jr., to TAG, 
OPD 322.97/40. Sec also 3d Ind, Hq 25th Inf (Col 
E. M. Yon) to CG 93d Div, 22 Jul 44, on basic 
Ltr, Hq 28th Rpl Bn and Assignment Sec to CG 
93d Div, 12 Jun 44, 93d Div Files 210.1 Reclassifi- 
cation and 210.31 Assignments. 



Men of the Spirit 

There was one Negro member of 
mixed staffs who had traditionally been 
welcomed as an officer leader of Negro 
troops. This was the chaplain. To 
many commanders, the presence of 
chaplains, required by Mobilization 
Regulations to be Negro in Negro units, 
promised an assuaging answer to the 
more difficult problems of leadership 
facing them. When officers and men 
became entangled in the many problems 
of a racial nature which could affect com- 
mand in Negro units, the first person to 
whom the problem was likely to be 
given was the chaplain. As guardians 
of the spiritual and moral life of the 
soldier, with a firm and solid tradition 
of leadership in Negro community life, 
chaplains were expected to possess spe- 
cial techniques for developing positive 
relationships between men and com- 
mand, and for providing the needed 
links of understanding upon which 
sound leadership could be built. They 
were expected to provide aid in comba- 
ting the internal stresses often present. 
Often they did, in the realm of religion 
and the spirit. But the problems of 
leadership in Negro units were not al- 
ways answerable in these terms. 

From the earliest period of mobiliza- 
tion, Negro chaplains "of the right sort" 
had been in demand. "A good chap- 
lain who commands the respect and 
confidence of the men is invaluable," 
one commander with experience with 
Negro troops reported. 76 Said another, 
in a unit which had no chaplain, "The 
services of such an officer have long been 

™ Lt Col James L. Lewis, 93d Engr, Notes on 
Service with the 93d Engineer Regiment (GS) in 
Extreme Cold and Wet Climates, Engr School 8715. 



226 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



needed and can accomplish immeasur- 
able good, if an intelligent, sympathetic 
and energetic one can be secured." 77 
An inspector supported his recommen- 
dation that there was an "urgent need" 
for a Negro chaplain at a special troop 
headquarters with the statement that 
"The morale of the enlisted men in the 
40th Signal Construction Battalion and 
the 56 2d Quartermaster Service Battal- 
ion, the units with colored personnel at 
this station, is very low." 78 

The expectation of many command- 
ers was that Negro chaplains, as many 
were, would be a helpful link between 
the command and the troops, interpret- 
ing each to the other and smoothing the 
rougher stretches in the path of leader- 
ship. Often the chaplain was the only 
Negro officer in the unit or in the area. 
At times he was the only person avail- 
able with previous experience in inter- 
racial matters. Often he was, like the 
average chaplain of the peacetime 
Army, not only a spiritual adviser but 
also a guardian of all morale, with 
recreation, athletic, and orientation 
duties to perform. 79 Until late 1941 
the chaplain of a Negro regiment was 
specifically charged with the instruction 
of soldiers in "the common English 
branches of education." 80 Usually he 
was expected to, and often he was 

" Ltr, Hq 758 th Tk Bn, Cp Hood, Tex., to CG 
AGF, 30 Mar 43, AGF 210.31/84 (Chaps). 

78 Ltr, Hq 16th Detachment Special Trps, Second 
Army, Cp Tyson to CG Second Army, 19 Nov 43, 
AGF 210.31/84 (Chaps) . 

w In the 20 February 1941 AR 60-5 the chaplain 
was specifically exempted from detail to these 
duties. Post exchange duties, courts-martial, de- 
fense counsel duties, and the proscriptions of the 
Geneva conventions only had been listed as outside 
the chaplain's duties in the 1937 version of this 
regulation. 

a " Dropped from the November 1941 revision of 
AR 60-5. 



directed to, explain to Negro troops the 
more difficult problems which arose. 
One officer, during the course of an in- 
vestigation, commented: "I don't know 
whether the men took this matter up 
with the Chaplain or not but if they did 
I feel rather disappointed because I 
feel that the Chaplain could have 
straightened the matter out." 81 

To enlisted men, the chaplain's re- 
lation to leadership was a plain one. 
Where the chaplain was held in esteem 
—and this esteem could arise from many 
approaches to the problems facing him 
—his influence for good was felt widely. 
Otherwise, the chaplain had a small 
congregation, few consultants, and little 
influence. No instance of serious fric- 
tion or disorder in a unit whose chaplain 
had both the ear of command and of 
enlisted men has been found. Alert 
and confident chaplains could, and did, 
prevent physical disturbances at times. 
Twice on the weekend of 12 July 1942, 
Chaplain Lorenzo Q. Brown, by prom- 
ising the full support of the command- 
ing officer, dispersed a potential mob of 
over five hundred soldiers bent on 
"rescuing" men of their battalion from 
the hands of civilian police who had, 
according to rumor, killed some of 
them. 82 But, in many units, chaplains 
were a disappointment to their com- 
manders and, in some cases, to their en- 
listed men. 



81 Rpt of Investigation of Conditions at Ft. Clark, 
Texas, conducted by Lt Col Lamar Tooze, IGD, 
Asst IG Hq Third Army, 23-28 Jul 43, 2d Cav 
Div 333, filed with gth Armd Div Files. 

82 On Monday, the missing "dead" men were pre- 
sented to the assembled battalion by the chaplain 
and battalion commander. Cleveland Call and 
Post, August i, 1942; Ltr, CofCh to Dean William 
Stuart Nelson, Howard University, 18 Jan 44, 
SPCHI an NC. 



THE QUEST FOR LEADERSHIP CONTINUES 



227 



Sometimes, chaplains became as 
enmeshed in unit quandaries as other 
Negro officers and men. As one chap- 
lain, neither a Negro nor working with 
Negro troops and therefore meeting the 
dilemma faced by many Negro chaplains 
in a less extreme form, expressed it: 
"The army measured a chaplain's success 
in terms of the degree to which he 
expedited army discipline; but the men 
judged him on his ability to unbend 
that discipline." 83 The Negro chaplain 
often found that, in the process of laying 
the groundwork for better discipline 
and morale, he had already alienated 
either his men or his superiors, with the 
result that he could effectively influence 
neither. 

Despite vigorous efforts pursued 
throughout the duration of the war, the 
Army never obtained a large enough 
number of Negro chaplains to be able to 
determine what their fullest effect 
might have been had enough been 
readily available. In addition to the 
three Negro chaplains in the Regular 
Army in 1940, there w r ere seventeen in 
the Reserve Corps, of whom three were 
on active duty with the Civilian Conser- 
vation Corps. 84 The normal distribu- 
tion of chaplains was one to every 1,200 
officers and enlisted men (1944 stand- 
ard), with chaplains divided between 
units and bases or higher headquarters. 
Chaplains were authorized, denomina- 
tionally, from among the major church 
bodies in proportion to their represen- 
tation in the census of religious bodies. 85 

83 Morris N. Kertzer, With an H on My Dog Tag 
(New York: Behrman House, 1947), p. 11. 

81 Ltr, OCofCh to Inez M. Cavert, Federal Coun- 
cil of the Churches of Christ in America, 10 Jun 
40, CofCh 211 Negro Chaps. 

85 The 1916 census was used. The igg6 census, 
published in 1939, was substituted in May 1945. 



Negro denominations were given their 
population-based quotas along with all 
other denominations that represented 
considerable portions of the nation's 
church membership. Negro ministers 
of predominantly white denominations 
were represented proportionately to 
their numbers and availability within 
their denominations. Many of the 
Negro units of battalion size were just 
under the strength of goo required for 
a unit chaplain and were therefore 
authorized none. Some services at- 
tempted to acquire special authoriza- 
tions for chaplains for such units. 88 
But the Office of the Chief of Chaplains 
was making valiant attempts to supply 
the ministers needed under current 
authorizations. Few chaplains from 
among those available could be spared 
to provide for special requests. 

In December 1940 teachers of religion 
and directors of religious life in 25 
Negro colleges and in 8 Negro and 1 1 
primarily white theological seminaries 
were requested to submit the names of 
promising Negro candidates for the 
Army chaplaincy. 87 Thereafter, speak- 
ers at assemblies of clergymen contin- 
ued to emphasize the need for chaplains 
and to urge qualified Negro ministers to 
apply for Army commissions. In the 
main, however, even when the constant 
upward readjustment of the quotas for 
chaplains as the size of the Army grew 
is taken into account, the supply of avail- 
able Negro chaplains always fell consid- 
erably short of the goal. There were 
corresponding shortages of white chap- 



6 "Ltr, Hq AA Comd to CG AGF, 26 Jun 43, and 
1st Ind, Hq AGF to CC AA Comd, 12 Aug 43, 
AGF 210.31/1 (Chaps). 

87 Ltr, OCofCh to Schools and Colleges, 30 Dec 
40, OCofCh 211 Negro Chaps. 



228 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



lains in many denominations, but 
among Negro chaplains the shortage was 
general in all denominations. 

For 1943, the existing Negro units 
were expected to require 455 chaplains. 
Of these, 445 were allotted to the Negro 
denominations and to the Methodist 
Church. It was hoped that Negro minis- 
ters of other denominations would sup- 
plement these quotas. With the 1943 
estimate before them, the Negro 
churches had the following goals in mid- 
January: 88 

1945 On 
Denomination Quota Duty Shortage 

National Baptist 



(U.S.A. 159; 



America, 18) 


177 


48 


129 


African Methodist 








Episcopal 


93 


3a 


61 


Methodist (Central 








Jurisdiction) 


69 




44 


African Methodist 








Episcopal Zion 


55 


6 


49 


Colored Methodist 








Episcopal 


5 1 


5 


46 




445 


116 


349 



The shortage of chaplains was ser- 
iously felt in some units. None of the 
divisions could obtain, initially, their 
full quotas o£ chaplains. Training 
units at replacement centers were some- 
times entirely without them. Units 
often lost their chaplains to higher 
priority units preparing for shipment 
overseas. The shortage was such that, 
sometimes, white chaplains were as- 
signed to Negro units as a temporary 
expedient, though a few were assigned 

^Ltrs, CofCh to Bishop R. R. Wright, Jr., and 
others, 23 Jan 43, SPCHP 210.1 (1-23-43). The 
Central Jurisdiction embraced most of the Negro 
membership of the predominantly white united 
Methodist Church. The other church bodies with 
specific quotas were independent Negro denomina- 
tions. 



because the Office of the Chief of Chap- 
lains had not been informed that the 
unit was Negro. 89 On posts with units 
too small to be authorized Negro chap- 
lains and on posts where the bulk popu- 
lation of Negroes was too small to require 
the services of a station chaplain, Negro 
troops were usually ministered to by 
white chaplains. At times, white chap- 
lains disappointedly reported that they 
had had little success in attracting Ne- 
gro troops to chapel services. One 
chaplain, believing that the fault lay 
with the available choice of music in the 
Army-Navy Hymnal, suggested that Ne- 
gro troops be supplied with a special 
hymnal of spirituals. 90 Sometimes Ne- 
gro civilian pastors from nearby towns 
offered their services, but the practice of 
using these volunteers was not favored 
by most commanders. 

One result of the shortage of chap- 
lains was the acceptance of a number of 
individuals who had less than superior 
qualifications. Of the chaplains sent to 
the Chaplain School, few failed to grad- 
uate. But those who did fail were sent 
to the field anyway; they were already 
commissioned and chaplains were 
scarce. Many of those failing in the 
school were Negroes; many, but not all, 
of the disappointing performances in 
the field came from men who had failed 
their courses at the school for 
chaplains. 91 A number were marginal 

89 Ltr, Pers Off CofCh to Port Chaplain, Hamp- 
ton Roads PofE, 14 Dec 42, and Ltr, OCofCh to 
Chaplain Edgar F. Siegfriedt, Cp Claiborne, La., 
10 Mar 43, both in OCofCh 211 Negro Chaps; Ltr, 
Pers Off CofCh (Chaplain John F. Monahan) for 
Corps Chaplain XVIII Corps, 15 Feb 44, SPCHP 
210.4 XVIII Corps (10 Feb 44). 

90 See corresp in OCofCh 080 SPCHS Cong- 
Christian, 21 Sep 43, 28 Sep 42, 3 Oct 42. 

B1 MS, OCofCh, Hist of Mil Tng, Supplement, 
pp. 7-8, in OCMH. 



THE QUEST FOR LEADERSHIP CONTINUES 



229 



ministers from the beginning. Some 
of these helped to undermine the repu- 
tation of Negro chaplains, and, by exten- 
sion, of Negro officers and leadership as 
a whole both among commanders and 
among enlisted men. In one army 
camp in the space of three months one 
of the two Negro chaplains misused 
funds entrusted to his keeping by en- 
listed men while on maneuvers; the other 
became notorious among the troops 
after persuading the wife of an enlisted 
man to remain behind after the depar- 
ture of her husband's unit. Bad check 
charges and marital difficulties plagued 
some. Another resigned for the good of 
the service as a chronic alcoholic. Cases 
such as these were not common, nor 
were they confined to Negro chaplains. 
But they occurred frequently enough 
among Negro chaplains to lessen the in- 
fluence of all Negro chaplains in some 
areas and to make the jobs of sounder 
chaplains more difficult both with sol- 
diers and with their commanders. 

Negro chaplains divided sharply over 
the issue of the precedence of their re- 
sponsibilities to their men as soldiers 
and Negroes and to their calling as min- 
isters and as officers. Their general 
influence upon enlisted men, barring 
unusual circumstances, was unques- 
tioned. As the only available Negro of- 
ficers in many commands, demands 
upon them by their men and by the 
Negroes of neighboring units and com- 
munities were often beyond those 
normally made upon men of their call- 
ing. As chaplains they were the recip- 
ients of grievances and complaints with- 
out limit. Many of these were rooted 
in the beliefs and fears of soldiers as 
Negroes. Chaplains skilled in human 
and interracial relations were able to 



deal judiciously with problems of this 
sort that came to their attention; many 
were able to alter and influence pat- 
terns of racially based behavior for the 
better. Others were unable to steer a 
clear path between the importunings of 
their men and the official duties which 
they had undertaken. Some withdrew 
from active concern in the problems of 
men and commands. Still other chap- 
lains, seeing a sufficiency of injustices 
about them, undertook the unflinching 
defense of all men in all cases, the 
guilty with the innocent. One such 
case, rather widely circulated among 
War Department staff agencies as part of 
an interview with a provost marshal re- 
turning from overseas, was that of a 
chaplain in Australia who "worked hard 
to defend 'a pore colored boy' who had 
killed two white officers in cold 
blood." 92 While many had a stabiliz- 
ing effect on units, others did not. In 
many commands, chaplains therefore 
became suspect as bearers of discord, 
contributing to, rather than alleviating, 
leadership problems. 93 

Even when these chaplains were 
morally right, their lack of tact in the 
difficult area in which they had to oper- 
ate created additional morale strains 
within the units whose men they had 
hoped to help. By late 1943, a number 
of chaplains, sometimes to the accom- 
paniment of considerable publicity in 



88 ASF Interim Rpt to ASF Staff Divs and ASW, 
26 Aug 44, SPINT R-575. 

83 See, for example: Memo, G-g for G-i, 10 Sep 
41, G-3/42659, and G-i Memo for Record, 22 Sep 
41, G-1/15640-114; Tel Conv, R&SC with OCofCh, 
26 Jul 43, OCofCh 211 NC, I; Statement for Record 
and Memo, both 2g Dec 42, Chaplains Rpts, and 
333 Investigation, 93d Div Files; Memo, TIG for 
Chief Special Inspection Div OTIG, AG 291.21 
(8 Mar 43) (1) . 



230 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



the Negro press, had resigned by request, 
been reclassified, or tried by courts- 
martial and dismissed from the service. 
A few of these sought— and those who 
sought it received— a sympathetic recep- 
tion among the Negro public, for they 
were viewed as the vigorous champions 
of the downtrodden carrying forward 
the great traditions of their churches. 
But they left in their wake commanders 
and supervising chaplains who viewed 
their successors with suspicion as poten- 
tial sources of disruptions; they left be- 
hind them enlisted men whose faith in 
the Army and their officer leaders was 
further weakened. 

Publicity resulting from the release 
of certain of these chaplains, added to 
general press comments on racial rela- 
tions within the Army, further ham- 
pered the recruiting program of the 
Chief of Chaplains. After a conference 
with representatives of the National Bap- 
tist Convention, U.S.A., the largest Ne- 
gro church body and the church with the 
fourth largest chaplains' quota and with 
the smallest portion of its quota filled, 
the Chief of Chaplains decided that, 
until the urgent need for Negro chap- 
lains was met, consideration would be 
given to applicants with two or more 
years of college or seminary work and 
three years of pastoral experience in lieu 
of the ordinarily required bachelor's de- 
gree, provided that other requirements 
were met. 94 This was the only case 
where different standards were pre- 



** Ltrs, CofCh to Representatives, National Bap- 
tist Convention USA, 30 Jul 43, SPCHC 080 Nat 
Bapt USA (23 Jul 43) ; Ltr, OCofCh to Chaplain 
Albert Percy Smith, 97th Engr Bn, 17 Sep 43, 
OCofCh 211 Negro Chaps; Ltr, OCofCh to Rev- 
erend Willard M. Wickizer, Ex-Secy Com on War 
Svs, Indianapolis, Ind., si Jul 43, SPCHP 080 
Disciples of Christ (21 Jul 43). 



scribed for Negro commissioned person- 
nel. 

One answer to this proposal was 
quickly forthcoming. At their conven- 
tion in Kansas City in September 1943, 
the National Baptists, contrary to the ex- 
pectations of the conferees, were pre- 
sented with a resolution that the 
convention would "refrain from further 
endorsement of members of our Denom- 
ination to serve as Chaplains in the 
United States Army" so long as bias in 
the treatment of chaplains resulting in 
"the public humiliation of outstanding 
members of the Baptist Clergy 
[through] tacit agreement of the Chief 
of Chaplains, the Chaplain's office, and 
the War Department" continued. 95 
While all chaplains were volunteers, no 
chaplain could be accepted by the Army 
without denominational endorsement. 

The developing attitude among Negro 
clergymen represented by this resolu- 
tion was reinforced the next year when 
the Fraternal Council of Negro 
Churches in America issued a manifesto 
which placed revisions in the armed 
forces' racial policy at the top of its list 
of desired reforms. 96 The inability of 
a number of Negro ministers to meet 
even the lowered standards, plus many 
clergymen's disbelief that they could 
give full service in the armed forces, 
permitted the shortage of chaplains to 
grow larger. In mid-July 1943, just be- 
fore standards were lowered, the total 
number of Negro chaplains on duty was 
246. 9T Their number hovered around 



85 CofCh 080, National Baptist USA, vol. I. 

80 The manifesto was reprinted in full in Con- 
gressional Record, September 14, 1944, p. A 4255. 

91 Ltrs, CofCh to Representatives National Baptist 
Convention USA, 30 Jul 43, SPCHC 080 National 
Baptist USA (23 Jul 43) . 



THE QUEST FOR LEADERSHIP CONTINUES 



231 



this figure for the rest of the war. On 
31 August 1944 there were slightly 
fewer, 238, while on 31 July 1945 the 
total number of Negro chaplains on duty 
was 259. 98 Quotas, in the meantime, 
rose as total Army strength rose. At the 
end of the war, the Negro denomina- 
tions were still far below their quotas. 
As of 19 October 1945, when the Chap- 
lain's Corps was at approximately its 
conclusion of hostilities strength, the 
Negro denominations had the following 



quotas and chaplains on 


duty: 


»9 






Chaplains 


Church 


Quota 


on Duty 


National Baptist (U.S.A. 






and America) 


612 


79 


African Methodist Episcopal 


77 


69 


African Methodist Episcopal 






Zion 


62 


18 


Colored Methodist Episcopal 


39 


8 




79° 


*74 



Even if they had all been able to affect 
positively the problems of leadership 
and morale, Negro chaplains remained 
to the end of the war too few in number 
to exert to the fullest the influence ex- 
pected of them. 

"Weeding Out": Rotation and 
Reclassification 

Gradually, a general malaise, destruc- 
tive to morale and therefore to leader- 



9S Strength of the Army, 6 Oct 44, 6 Sep 45, 
STM-30. 

w The quota for all chaplains was 8,500; 7,584 
were on duty on this date. In this tabulation 
Negro chaplains of the Central Jurisdiction of the 
Methodist Church as well as Negro chaplains of 
other primarily white denominations were included 
in the figures for their parent churches. On 31 
October 1945 the total number of Negro chaplains, 
including those of primarily white denominations, 
was 201. Statistics compiled from MS history, 
CofCh, Military History of the Second World War: 



ship potentialities, settled upon a great 
many officers serving with Negro troops. 
Many white officers felt that they were 
"figuratively sitting on kegs of 
powder." Though they would try to 
carry out the desires of the War Depart- 
ment they felt that they were "sunk" 
in their assignments. Many Negro of- 
ficers became convinced that they were 
the victims of discriminatory practices 
which prevented the fullest develop- 
ment of their capabilities. 100 That few 
white officers would choose to serve with 
Negro troops became a generally ac- 
cepted belief. That few Negro officers 
were capable and efficient was as widely 
believed. 101 

To help dispel the belief that service 
with Negro troops was a blind alley, The 
Inspector General recommended in 
1943 that rotation of white officers on 
duty with Negro troops be considered. 102 
Rotation was not to be mandatory, for 
though it was obvious that the majority 
preferred service with white troops, 
some officers had stated that they pre- 
ferred duty with Negro troops. The 
commanding general of the 93d Divi- 
sion agreed that such a plan would be 
helpful in his division. 103 "While as- 
signments in War cannot be based on 
individual preferences," Headquarters, 



The Corps of Chaplains, pp. 21-22, in OCMH and 
Strength of the Army, 14 Dec 45, STM-30. 

100 Memo, WD for TIG, 13 Oct 43, AGF 210.31/ 
59 2 - 

101 Memo, Col Leonard for ASW, 3 Oct 44, ASW 
291.2; McNair-Miller Corresp, extracts in AGF 
322/1 (93d Div) ; papers in AG 291.2 (23 May 42) , 
Participation of Negro Trps in Post-War Mil 
Establishment. 

102 Memo, WD for TIG, 13 Oct 43, AGF 210.31/ 
592. 

103 Memo, Hq 93d Inf Div for CG CAMA, n.d., 
Incl to Ltr, CG IV Corps to G-i AGF, AGF 210.31/ 
592- 



232 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Army Ground Forces, wrote to its field 
commanders, "it is believed reasonable 
that, so far as practicable, service with 
colored troops should be rotated." 104 

The procedure worked out by the 
Ground Forces was that commanders of 
Negro divisions and separate units 
would report to the appropriate higher 
commander not to exceed 5 percent of 
the total number of white officers, dis- 
tributed approximately by grades, who 
had had eighteen months of continuous 
service with colored troops, did not de- 
sire further service with them, and had 
an efficiency rating of very satisfactory 
or better. Higher commanders would 
then reassign these officers to white units, 
provided that replacements for them 
were available. General officers and 
regimental commanders were to be ro- 
tated by Headquarters, Army Ground 
Forces. The rotation policy was to be 
published to higher commanders only. 105 

The belief that rotation of officers was 
a solution to the problem of dissatisfac- 
tion among white officers assigned to 
Negro units persisted throughout the 
war. That rotation ran directly coun- 
ter to the provision that successful com- 
manders be kept with Negro units; that it 
would contribute further to the rapid 
turnover of officers in Negro units about 
which so many inspectors had com- 
plained; and that, without a backlog of 
excellent leaders to draw on for replace- 
ments, rotation was impractical as a 
device for guaranteeing effective leader- 
ship did not dim its chimerical appeal. 
Though it did not work in practice, as 
evidenced by the number of negative 

104 Ltr, Hq AGF to CG's Armies, Corps, Comds, 
CAMA, TDC, 31 Dec 43, AGF 810.31/593 (31 Dec 
43) GNGAP. 

1M Ibid. 



reports submitted by commanders, it 
was nevertheless accepted by officers in 
high and low ranks as the next best 
thing to no service with Negro troops at 
all. 106 

No similar hope of relief was avail- 
able to those Negro officers who felt that 
they had served long enough against 
odds in specific units. Requests for 
transfer sometimes came from Negro 
officers in batches, but since there were 
few opportunities for transfer, most of 
these could not be honored. Requests 
for transfer were often a prelude to re- 
classification for both Negro and white 
officers, especially in the larger units, for 
they called attention to the dissatisfac- 
tion and to the resulting unsatisfactory 
work of officers. Even when units 
sought to alleviate pressures on officers 
in an attempt to help their adjustment 
and improve their leadership abilities 
reclassification sometimes proved the 
only possible answer. 

One white junior officer, after pro- 
gressively demonstrating his inability to 
adjust to service with Negro troops, was 
removed from duty with troops and 
given special headquarters duties, but 
there he spent most of his time looking 
up regulations and circulars and writing 
letters trying to arrange a transfer. 
Eventually he informed his regimental 
commander that he would have to get 
away from serving with Negro troops 
even if he brought court-martial charges 
against himself. He was finally sent 
before a reclassification board. There 
he appeared with affidavits from other 
officers which declared that most of them 



l0a AG and SF Redistribution "Sound-Off" Re- 
ports Files, TID (I&E) Div; Ltr, CG USAFIL to 
TAG, 18 Oct 43, OPD 320.2 Liberia, sec. 1; Ltrs 
in 92 d Div 210.3 Transfer of Officers. 



THE QUEST FOR LEADERSHIP CONTINUES 



233 



felt the same way that he did. But who 
would operate the unit if every officer 
were transferred? the board wanted to 
know. This particular officer, the 
board decided had gone so far in plac- 
ing his personal dislikes above the de- 
mands of duty that he was recommended 
for discharge from the service. 107 

Successive transfers in some instances 
caused a discontinuity in command 
which had its effects upon unit training 
and discipline. One company of divi- 
sional special troops had seven com- 
manders and nearly as many first 
sergeants in two years, while the division 
itself had five divisional staff officers 
in the same technical service during the 
same period. When the latest company 
commander requested relief because 
"an attempt was made on my life by a 
shot being fired thru my tent and into my 
bunk, thru my mosquito bar a bare few 
inches from my pillow" with the result 
that he could "never again have any 
faith in the company as a Company 
Commander should have because of a 
constant fear of some unknown person 
possibly waiting to try again," the re- 
quest was disapproved. "If every time 
an officer gets in a tough spot and asks 
to transfer," the division's chief of staff 
observed, "we won't get far. I can 
understand how he feels, I can under- 
stand that there may be for a time a 
degree of lack of interest and lack of 
confidence on his part. However, if he 
is any good, and I know he is, and will 
apply himself to his task, he will make 
good." 



107 Unless otherwise indicated, the information 
and specific examples in this and succeeding para- 
graphs of this section were derived from unit files 
which arc unidentified in order to preserve the 
anonymity of the individuals concerned. 



Three successive special staff officers 
occupying the same position were re- 
classified in the same division. The 
first was recommended for relief "as be- 
ing unsuited for duty with a colored 
unit." His successor was reclassified a 
year later upon his determination that 
he could no longer handle a situation 
which showed no sign of improving: 

When I first came to this Division I was 
not prejudiced against the colored race and 
had high hopes of accomplishing a great 
deal. I have worked hard and faithfully 
and felt that I had succeeded to some 
extent. However, in the past few months, 
incidents have occurred which indicate that 
the feeling was an illusion. Not only have I 
been unable to eradicate race prejudice as a 
basis for the many difficulties encountered 
but I have found it most difficult to work 
with this command. I have twice been 
called disloyal by the Chief of Staff and 
once by the Commanding General because 
I have had the courage to express my views 
concerning morale in this Division. 

The recent episode with the 

Company, in which a definite planned 
attempt to discredit the Battalion Com- 
mander and to cause him to be relieved, 
has destroyed all hope I ever had to 
accomplish anything here. I was told that 
we, the whites, are all plotting to discredit 
the negroes, that they do not trust any 
white officer. They feel that their Battalion 
should have all Negro officers as another 
white officer would merely be a repetition 
of the previous ones. I so lost control of 
myself that I told several negro officers in 

the Company that, where I had not 

been prejudiced before, I was now 
definitely prejudiced. 

I find that I am definitely turning into a 
Psychoneurotic. I have been unable to 
sleep, complain of various aches and pains 
which have no organic basis. This morning 
while in conference with the Commanding 

General . . ., concerning the Battalion 

situation, I broke down with hysterical 
weeping for over an hour. This is an 
indication of my mental state, which does 



234 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



not differ from that of a number of other 
officers on the staff. I know that I am not 
psychiatric material and a change of 
environment will clear these symptoms up. 
I feel that I have a lot of excellent service 
left in my system but if I am forced to 
remain with this Division I shall end up a 
liability to the government. I believe 
someone else, with a fresh point of view, 
could handle the job with greater efficiency. 

This officer, according to his command- 
ing general, had performed in an excel- 
lent manner; therefore, the division 
recommended his transfer to any except 
another Negro unit. But, lacking a 
proper vacancy for him, higher head- 
quarters recommended reclassification. 
By this time, his successor was already 
being reclassified because he did not 
have "the knack or ability to handle 
negroes." 

Sometimes, desired transfers and re- 
classifications were not achieved. Two 
regimental commanders in one division 
in training were listed for relief or 
transfer, although one had been previ- 
ously recommended for promotion to 
general officer rank. One was recom- 
mended for transfer because of age and 
the other because of lack of "the mental 
and physical energy" needed to com- 
mand effectively. At the same time, 
special troop commanders and special 
staff officers were recommended for 
removal from the division. But the ap- 
proach of maneuvers caused a recon- 
sideration since "any change if made at 
this late time would probably be more 
detrimental than helpful." One of the 
two regimental commanders remained 
with the division until the end of the 
war. 

In a separate battalion, reclassifica- 
tion of several officers was recom- 
mended. The commander was "totally 



out of sympathy with Negro troops and 
grossly ignorant of what was required of 
a Battalion Commander." The execu- 
tive officer was considered "a type who is 
unfit to command, one whose idea of 
efficiency is to have an inspection of 
polished shoes at midnight and for iden- 
tification tags at 3 o'clock in the 
morning and to give mass company 
punishment by requiring soldiers to 
march from midnight to 8 A.M." A 
lieutenant was judged unfit to command 
troops because of his use of improper 
language and because of a "generally 
abusive attitude," though, it was added, 
he appeared to have had considerable 
provocation. A fourth officer had 
kicked and stoned a soldier who had 
been "most disobedient and discourte- 
ous to him, which actions however, 
could not excuse the officer's action." 108 
But in this case, by the time recommen- 
dations had reached headquarters and 
then been reopened by direction of the 
assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff, 
the unit was overseas. With the deter- 
mination that it would be "impracti- 
cable" to return the officers to the states, 
reprimands only were sent them. 109 

Reclassification procedures for Negro 
officers in the divisions usually began 
with assignment to divisional officers' 
schools. Upon reports of progress in 
the schools depended the disposition 
made of the officer student. These 
schools, originally designed to improve 
leadership and technical qualifications, 
soon came to be looked upon as a means 
of weeding out unwanted officers, espec- 
ially since usually only Negro officers 



™R&RS, The Air Inspector to Secy Air Staff, 
i Nov 43, AAF 350.1, binder 3. 

101 R&RS and drafts of reprimands, AAF 250.1 
Misc. 



THE QUEST FOR LEADERSHIP CONTINUES 



235 



were assigned to them. Some were 
frank in stating their opinions of the 
schools. Said one officer: "On being 
assigned to the Division Officers School I 
was called in by the Regimental Com- 
mander, who made it clear that I was 
being sent to school not because of in- 
efficiency, but because of my attitude 
toward the policies of the Regiment as 
to Negro officers." Said another: 
"Completely ignoring my several rat- 
ings of 'excellent' and no ratings of 
unsatisfactory, I was ordered to the 
Division school to prove my efficiency, 
causing me greater humiliation." 

The reclassification of Negro officers 
was usually supported by statements of 
their lack of ability, aggressiveness, or 
interest, supplemented by statements of 
their race consciousness and sensitivity. 
A number of officers disputed these 
charges, declaring that they were being 
reclassified, subjected to psychiatric ex- 
amination, or punished for showing 
resentment to discriminatory practices. 
When men already slated for re- 
classification replied with charges of 
discrimination, their accusations usually 
reinforced the original charges of lack 
of co-operation and development of 
prejudices against superior white of- 
ficers. But, at times, officers who had 
previously been considered exemplary 
leaders surprised commanders by sub- 
mitting requests for relief or resignation 
phrased in similar terms. One, from an 
officer whose commander disapproved 
the request "in view of the excellent 
record of this officer in his organization, 
and the spirit and thoroughness by 
which his duties are performed," be- 
gan: 

By my own admission, I can no longer 



willingly and cooperatively discharge the 
duties of an officer as I have done faithfully 
and cheerfully during more than two years 
of service in a commissioned status. A 
proper regard for the opinions of all 
concerned demands that with clarity and 
forthrightness I set forth the causes which 
do now propel this course of action. 

a. I am unable to adjust myself to the 
handicap of being a Negro Officer in the 
United States Army. Realizing that minori- 
ties are always at odds for consideration 
commensurate with the privileges enjoyed 
by the greater number, I have tried 
earnestly to find this expected lack of 
equality, and nothing more, in the 
relationships and situations around me 
here. Prolonged observation reveals that in- 
consistencies over and above a reasonable 
amount are rampant. Sins of omission, sins 
of commission, humiliations, insults— injus- 
tices, all, are mounted one upon another 
until one's zest is chilled and spirit broken. 

b. In my opinion there is mutual 
distrust between the two groups of officers. 
As a result of this, it is my belief, nowhere 
is there wholehearted cooperation or unity 
of purpose. Prejudice has bred a 
counterprejudice so that now neither fac- 
tion can nor will see without distortion, fn 
garrison the situation is grave; in the field 
where one's life and success of mission are 
dependent upon that cooperation and 
unity, disastrous. 

c. Being exposed to this atmosphere 
for so long a time, I have not remained 
unchanged; to deny this would be 
dishonest. For so long have I endured the 
frustration and mental torture of being 
ostracized from, discriminated against, dis- 
credited, that my resentment has become 
an insurmountable barrier against my sense 
of duty. Whereas I was once fired with 
ambition and zeal to do a necessary job 
willingly, I now find myself with the 
willingness no longer. Enthusiasm has given 
way to apathy; ambition, to a sense of 
futility. . . . Feeling as f do, a sense of 
fairness to myself, to those who command 
me, and most important, to those who must 
serve under me directs that I can but offer 
my resignation. 



236 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



When this officer learned that his re- 
quest had aroused indignation at bat- 
talion and regimental headquarters and 
that reclassification proceedings would 
be instituted instead, he tried to with- 
draw his resignation. The regimental 
commander, though admitting that he 
had previously thought him an excellent 
officer, proceeded to certify him a "fail- 
ure" because of "1. Prejudice against 
white officers" and "2. Inability to adjust 
himself willingly and conscientiously 
cooperate with those in authority." 
Supporting statements, including those 
of the regimental and battalion com- 
manders, indicated that though he was 
a willing officer performing in an excel- 
lent manner, it had been noticed that he 
had developed "a shiftiness" in his eyes 
and a tendency to "wincing" which 
indicated insolence, untrustworthiness, 
deceit, and distrust. Only the company 
commander continued to hold that this 
was an excellent officer, though he 
added that since the officer had admitted 
that he could no longer discharge his 
duties well, his services to the company 
would be unsatisfactory. 

Most cases of reclassification were 
clear-cut. The officers concerned had 
deteriorated week by week and most 
knew that reclassification was being 
considered. Headquarters often re- 
ported that they were engaged in weed- 
ing out unsatisfactory officers. With 
white officers, recommendations might 
be made for retention in the service for 
duty anywhere except with Negro 
troops, but with Negro officers the recom- 
mendation was usually for separation 
from the service. Even then, while 
papers were forwarded and returned, 
officers awaiting reclassification re- 
mained in their units where others, to 



their own discomfiture and concern, 
soon learned of the scheduled event. 
White officers, in many instances, could 
be placed on detached or special duty 
in headquarters during this waiting 
period, with the result that Negro officers 
in some units felt that they alone bore 
the brunt of reclassifications. 

The attempt to improve leadership 
by transferring and reclassifying unsatis- 
factory officers therefore became en- 
meshed in the same racial problem that 
ensnared officer leaders in other areas, 
particularly in promotions and assign- 
ments. The commander of a regiment 
with 150 officers, one hundred of them 
Negroes and fifty white, explained: 

. . . The officer being reclassified, either 
white or colored, thinks he is getting a raw 
deal. This sentiment is largely shared by his 
friends and acquaintances. When four cases 
are pending at one time, as there are at 
present in this regiment, the reaction in 
morale amongst officers of the unit is 
particularly noticeable. Once the officers 
being reclassified depart the atmosphere 
will gradually clear and officer morale will 
get back on even keel. 

. . . Where white and colored officers are 
mixed, particularly in companies, two psy- 
chological complexes are present, both 
equally false. Almost every white officer, no 
matter how mediocre he is in ability, feels 
that he is superior to the colored officer. In 
this connection it must be borne in mind 
that officers of company grade are young, 
and have not attained the tolerance and 
fair judgment towards other races which 
may be found in older and more 
experienced officers. The colored officer, no 
matter how capable, is quick to interpret 
any criticism, correction or punishment 
given by white officers as racial 
discrimination. The same is true when the 
colored officer does not obtain a promotion 
or assignment he desired. These two 
complexes create an abnormal situation pe- 
culiar not only to this regiment but to the 



THE QUEST FOR LEADERSHIP CONTINUES 



237 



division as a whole. Almost without 
exception every assignment or promotion 
in company grades and sometimes field 
grades is believed by one or the other 
group to have an ulterior motive connected 
therewith. 

The company commander, in particular, 
has a most difficult task to live in harmony 
with and maintain unity and efficiency 
amongst his officers, particularly if he has 
the courage to weed out the unfit. In some 
instances, rather than rate a junior officer 
"unsatisfactory" on his 66-1 , commanders 
have given a "satisfactory" purely to avoid 
the charge of discrimination that invar- 
iably accompanies such an action. When 
questioned, the company commander ad- 
mits that the officer has not been 
performing satisfactorily but he has hopes 
that the officer will improve. The 
undersigned has ordered reclassification 
proceedings to be initiated in many cases 
and has informed the officer in question 
that his reclassification was being directed, 
—all this to avoid criticism and charges of 
discrimination being directed at the battal- 
ion or company commander concerned. 

Little was, or perhaps could, be done 
about these developing strains on lead- 
ership until matters had gone too far 
for correction by any other means. On 
the surface, intra-unit relations often 
appeared to be smooth, but the "under- 
current of racial antipathies, mistrusts 
and preconceived prejudices" in some 
units made an unhealthy situation from 
the beginning. 110 Administrative and 
troop leadership talents of both Negro 
and white officers were often expended 
in the defense of real and imagined per- 
sonal prerogatives which had little to do 
with leadership and nothing to do with 
a concerted military effort. Despite 
the efforts of higher commanders, the 



u °Pers Ltr, Lt Col Marcus H. Ray, 600th FA 
Bn, APO 92, Co Truman K. Gibson, 14 May 45, 
copy in OPD 322.97 III. 



development of leadership for troops 
who could use the very best available of- 
ten bogged down in areas where it had 
no business pausing for the briefest halt. 

Unending Quest 

Leadership for Negro troops was thus 
lost in a welter by the physical necessity 
of assigning all white, all Negro, or both 
white and Negro officers to Negro units 
and by the policies governing these as- 
signments. That all officers for Negro 
units would have to come into frequent 
contact with other officers, Negro and 
white, from nearby units under the 
same command or headquarters and 
that all officers assigned to Negro units 
would have to adjust to service with Ne- 
gro enlisted men was axiomatic. But 
that all officers assigned to Negro units, 
as a first step in the development of their 
leadership potentialities when on duty 
with Negro troops, had to be able to ac- 
cept with equanimity any and all of the 
problems and petty frictions which 
might arise out of these necessities was 
barely understood. When it was, ob- 
taining the required paragons of inter- 
racial dexterity was difficult. 

Leadership of the type normally 
associated with well-functioning units, 
though it did exist, was rarer among 
Negro units than elsewhere in the Army, 
With the rapid turnover of officers, the 
temperamental clashes between officers 
and troops, the friction between Negro 
and white officers, the frequent regular 
and special inspections from higher and 
adjacent headquarters, the constant 
striving for results apparently not to be 
forthcoming, and the lack of firm, posi- 
tive leadership on the points at issue, 
this could hardly have been otherwise. 



238 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Leadership principles in many units 
were forgotten while officers pondered 
their own fates. Many white officers 
were filled with a feeling of defeat and 
discouragement over their own inglori- 
ous assignments to troops in whom they 
had no confidence and about whom their 
white associates, when they did not com- 
pletely ignore their existence, were 
frankly sceptical. Many Negro officers 
were filled with resentment toward the 
social matrix in which they were caught 
and which confined them to subordinate 
positions where they felt that they were 
neither fully officers nor enlisted men 
but uniformed symbols, doomed to re- 



ceive at best a grudging acceptance as 
officers from their superiors and only a 
token recognition as leaders from their 
subordinates. Neither group, as a 
whole, concentrated upon its major 
problem: the leadership of men. 

The provision of leadership in Negro 
units became, therefore, as difficult a 
problem as any that the War Depart- 
ment faced in the employment of Negro 
troops. Men who had in sufficient 
measure General McNarney's pre- 
scribed "common sense" simply could 
not be found in quantities large enough 
to supply Negro units with the leaders 
whom they so desperately needed. 



CHAPTER IX 

Units: Men and Training 



Housing, camp sites, units, and officers 
were all prior necessities to the main 
task in the mobilization of Negro man- 
power: the induction and training of 
soldiers for employment in war. Pri- 
vate soldiers and noncommissioned 
officers were the final key to that em- 
ployment. Upon their capabilities, 
qualifications, and adaptability de- 
pended, in the last analysis, the per- 
formance of the units, the effectiveness 
of the leadership of their commissioned 
and noncommissioned officers, and the 
effectiveness of the training facilities 
provided by the Army. 

Army planners had counted on 
advances between wars in the civilian 
training and experience of Negroes to 
make feasible the provision of a greater 
number of types of Negro units than 
those activated in the first months of 
mobilization. But differences in Selec- 
tive Service rejection rates, in Army test 
scores, and in the training progress of 
Negroes as a whole when compared with 
whites as a whole soon revealed a gen- 
eral lag between Negro registrants of 
draft age and the rest of the country. 
To construct and employ, on the same 
master plan, separate but parallel units 
in all arms and services with one of the 
two parallel groups of units recruited 
entirely from a relatively unprepared 
portion of the population barely suscep- 
tible to the selection and classification 



procedures applied to the rest of the 
Army was a difficult task at best. This 
task was made more difficult not only by 
the selection and employment policies 
of the Army, but also by widespread 
variations and deficiencies within the 
Negro population. These variations 
and deficiencies began to show up early. 
They created problems in the employ- 
ment of Negro manpower both early 
and late. 

Standards and Inductions 

In World War II, Negroes were ac- 
cepted for military service at a consist- 
ently and continuously lower rate than 
whites. As of 30 September 1941, 
when the number of Negroes classified in 
the immediately available class (I— A) 
by Selective Service was 13.1 percent of 
the total in that class, and therefore 
higher than the approximately 10.7 per- 
cent proportion of Negroes among those 
registered, the number of Negroes in 
Class IV-F (rejected by Selective Serv- 
ice) showed an even greater dispropor- 
tion. Of men rejected as a result of 
physical examination, 12 percent were 
Negroes; of men rejected for obvious 
physical or mental disabilities without 
physical examination, 15.8 percent were 
Negroes; and of men rejected because of 
any other reason without physical ex- 
amination, including failure to meet 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



minimum educational requirements, 
35.6 percent were Negroes.' Of the 
registrants classified between 15 May 
and 15 September 1941, 1.1 percent o£ 
the whites, or 60,001 were deferred for 
educational deficiency, while ia.g per- 
cent of the Negroes, or 83,466 were so 
deferred. 2 By the end of 1943, of all 
white men examined at induction sta- 
tions, 30.3 percent had been rejected, 
but of all Negro men examined 46 per- 
cent had been rejected. During 1943, 
over half of the Negroes examined at 
induction stations (432,086 out of 814,- 
604) were rejected as compared with 
33.8 percent of the whites examined. 3 
The number of Negroes classified for 
limited service only was also excessive 
in comparison with the number of 
whites so classified.* The higher pro- 
portion oE Negroes available in I-A in 
the earlier months of mobilization re- 
flected the smaller numbers of men de- 
ferred in essential categories rather than 
a higher percentage of physically and 
mentally fit men. 

Of the Negroes rejected, the largest 
numbers fell into two classes: venereal 
disease cases and the educationally de- 
ficient. Of the two, educational defi- 
ciency was by far the more important 
manpower problem, since facilities for 
relatively rapid treatment of venereal 
diseases were known. Once cured, the 
venereal s ceased to be a problem, except 
in cases of reinfection after induction 

1 Selective Service in Peacetime, First Report of 
the Director of Selective Sertiice, 1940-7941 (Wash- 
ington, i94*>. PP- S54-55- 

1 Sehcti^ *Set%ice is the Tide of War Turns: 
Third Report of the Director of Selective Service. 
'94)~'9t4 (Washington, 1945) , pp. 559, 615, 6*7. 

< Ibid., p. soli. 

pp. 207, 6*9. For whites, the largest 
number was rejected for menial disease. 



where duty time was lost. Moreover, 
after March 1943, when facilities for 
rapid cures became generally available, 
most venereals became eligible for in- 
duction. But the cure for educational 
deficiency, while also known, was a 
long, slow, corrective process whose end 
result could not be predicted. The best 
that could be expected in a short period 
of time was to raise men to a "function- 
ally literate" level. This, of course, 
was "education" in a highly limited 
sense. 

The Army itself was not directly con- 
cerned with rejected Negroes. Since 
they were not subject to Army training, 
they became part of the problem of 
over-all use of national manpower as 
surveyed and controlled by the War 
Manpower Commission. But the state 
of affairs symbolized by the high rejec- 
tion rates of Negroes was, nevertheless, 
of the greatest significance to the mili- 
tary use of Negro manpower, ft meant 
that, in manpower calculations, the 
number of Negroes in the age group 
eligible for service who could meet ini- 
tial Army standards fell short of expec- 
tations. Therefore the ability of the 
Negro population to share fully in the 
defense of the nation was limited from 
the beginning by disadvantages to 
which Negroes were subject in their 
civilian lives.* It meant, fuTther, that 
of those Negroes inducted into the Army, 
a large proportion would be men who 
barely crossed the line of acceptability 
by Army standards. For the same cir- 
cumstances which caused so large a num- 
ber of rejections left a large group of 
men who barely met the minimum in- 

"Martin D. Jenkins et al. r The Black and White 
of Rejections for Military Service (Montgomery, 
Ala.: American Teachers Ajsociation, 1944). 



UNITS: MEN AND TRAINING 



241 



duction requirements. This heavy 
weighting of Negro personnel toward the 
lower end of the acceptable scale be- 
came apparent in the first year of 
mobilization. As induction standards 
changed, the problem posed by the 
qualifications of Negro inductees was 
intensified. Each change in stand- 
ards meant subsequent administrative 
changes for the reception and absorp- 
tion of Negro soldiers. 

During the first few months of 
mobilization, no definite mental or 
educational standards for induction were 
prescribed. Mobilization Regulations 
merely required that no registrant who 
had previously been discharged from 
the Regular Army, Navy, or Marine 
Corps because of inaptness or who 
could not "understand simple orders 
given in the English language" would 
be inducted. 7 

In the spring of 1941 the Personnel 
Division urged that standards be raised 
to reduce the numbers who could not 
readily absorb instruction so that more 
of the nation's men of higher abilities 
could receive the benefits of a year's 
training. G-i was aware that the larg- 
est reduction of low grade men result- 
ing from any upward revision of stand- 
ards would come in the Fourth and 
Eighth— the Southern— Corps Areas and 
that a new standard would serve to re- 
duce the numbers of Negroes eligible 
for the Army. Such a reduction was 
not considered too serious, since as yet 
neither housing nor units in sufficient 
numbers were available for Negroes. 
Nevertheless, a "hostile public reaction" 
might come from the South, G-i 

7 MR 1-7, Reception of Selective Service Men, 
Change 2, 3 Nov 40. In effect from November 
1940 to 15 May 1941. 



therefore suggested that any test applied 
be a simple one which local boards 
could give. Accordingly, beginning 15 
May 1941, the ability to read, write, and 
compute "as commonly prescribed in 
the fourth grade in grammar school" 
became the standard for induction. 
Those men who had not completed the 
fourth grade were eligible for induction 
only upon passing the Minimum 
Literacy Test prescribed by the War 
Department. 8 This standard remained 
in effect until 1 August 1942, when the 
Army began to accept illiterates in 
numbers not to exceed 10 percent of all 
white and 10 percent of all Negro regis- 
trants accepted in any one day. 9 

Classification Tests 

Once inducted, the selectee received 
additional tests and classification inter- 
views at reception centers. The chief 
test on which classification was based 
was the Army General Classification Test 
(AGCT). This test, given generally 
from March 1941 on, had been devised to 
help the Army sort soldiers according to 
their ability to learn. It was designed 
to separate the fast learners from the 
slow. 10 

8 Memo, G-i for CofS, 31 Mar 41, AG 381 (11-3- 
37) (1) sec. 1-7-a; MR 1-7, Reception of Selective 
Service Men, Change 9, 18 Apr 41; Roy K. Daven- 
port and Felix Kampschroer, Personnel Utilization: 
Classification and Assignment of Military Person- 
nel in the Army of the United States During World 
War II, pp. 81-82, MS OCMH. 

•WD Cir 169, sec. IV, 1 Jun 4a. 

ia Walter V. Bingham, "The Army Personnel 
Classification System," The Annals of the American 
Academy of Political and Social Science, CCXX 
(March, 194?) , si; Walter V. Bingham, in Ambrose 
Caliver, ed.. Post War Education of Negroes; Educa- 
tional Implications of Army Data and Experiences 
of Negro Veterans and War Workers (Washington: 
Federal Security Agency, U.S. Office of Education, 
1945), p. 25. 



242 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



The AGC test contained three kinds 
of tasks: first, "verbal items of in- 
creasing difficulty, sampling the person's 
grasp of the meaning of words and their 
differences; second, items involving so- 
lution of arithmetical problems and 
mathematical computations; third, 
items requiring ability to visualize and 
think about relationships of things in 
space." 11 It attempted to measure the 
effects of at least four elements influenc- 
ing the rate of learning: (1) native 
capacity, (2) schooling and educational 
opportunities, (3) socioeconomic status, 
and (4) cultural background. 12 That 
it measured native intelligence alone or 
completely, Dr. Walter V. Bingham, 
Chief Psychologist of the Classification 
and Replacement Branch of The Adju- 
tant General's Office, denied: 

It does not measure merely inherent 
mental capacity. Performance in such a test 
reflects very definitely the educational op- 
portunities the individual has had and the 
way in which these opportunities have been 
grasped and utilized. Educational opportu- 
nities do not mean schools merely. Learning 
goes on about the home, on the playground, 
at work, when one reads a newspaper, 
listens to a radio, or sees a movie. There is 
nothing in the title of the Army test that 
says anything about native intelligence. It 
is a classification test. Its purpose is to 
classify soldiers into categories according to 
how ready they are to pick up soldiering— 
how likely they are to learn easily the facts, 
skills, and techniques necessary for carrying 
out Army duties. 13 

In three of the elements whose effects 



u Bingham, in Post War Education of Negroes, p. 
«5- 

12 Roy K. Davenport, "Implications of Military 
Selection and Classification in Relation to Uni- 
versal Military Training," Journal of Negro Edu- 
cation, XV (Fall, 1946) , 590. 

u Bingham, in Post War Education of Negroes, 
P- 25- 



were measured, Negroes as a whole 
entered the Army with grave deficien- 
cies. School facilities for Negro induct- 
ees had been measured and found to be 
inadequate by general standards. 14 
The effect of playgrounds, newspapers, 
radios, and motion pictures as a part of 
their learning process could only be esti- 
mated, but it was known that in many 
communities with large Negro pop- 
ulations one or more of these influences 
upon learning was missing from the 
backgrounds of most Negro inductees. 
The socioeconomic status of Negroes the 
country over was generally lower than 
that of the rest of the population, and 
the general cultural background of 
Negroes was lower still. Native capac- 
ity, unexercised and untried, had also 
faced many impediments to develop- 
ment in civilian life. 

The Army was not primarily inter- 
ested in native capacity or in cultural 
background but in the working ability 
that the inductee had attained and in 
the promise of future development in a 
short time which that level of ability 
indicated. On the AGCT, the most 
rapid learners— those making scores of 
130 or above— were ranked at the top in 
Grade I and the slowest learners— those 
making scores of 69 or below— were 
placed in Grade V. With 100 as the 
average, the AGCT was designed to ob- 
tain scores that would reflect a normal 
distribution curve, as follows: Grade I, 
7 percent; Grade II, 24 percent; Grade 
III, 38 percent; Grade IV, 24 percent; 
and Grade V, 7 percent. 

These grades had broad and general 
usefulness to classification and assign- 
ment. Grades I, II, and III were ex- 

11 See files, Journal of Negro Education, passim; 
Jenkins et al., op. cit. 



UNITS: MEN AND TRAINING 



243 



pected to produce leadership for the 
Army, with officer candidates coming 
wholly from Grades I and II— from men 
with scores of 1 10 and over. Grades I, 
II, and III were also expected to furnish 
the Army's enlisted specialists and tech- 
nicians. The lower grades could be ex- 
pected to produce only semiskilled sol- 
diers and laborers. 

Seldom did a given unit's distribu- 
tion work out in the expected ratios. 
But the average unit and the Army as 
a whole were not too far from the pre- 
dicted figures. On the other hand Ne- 
gro inductees, out of whom units of all 
types were to be constructed, fell almost 
wholly in the two lowest classes. From 
the beginning, therefore, the tests had 
special significance in the organization 
and training of Negro units. 

While Negroes generally ranked lower 
on the AGCT than whites, Negroes and 
whites of comparable backgrounds made 
comparable scores. High scorers 
among Negroes learned as rapidly as high 
scorers among whites, provided that 
motivation, surroundings, and instruc- 
tion were of the same quality. That 
there were fewer Negroes with average 
backgrounds measured in terms of edu- 
cational and vocational experiences was 
not the fault of the tests. That there 
would be fewer high scorers among 
Negroes per hundred than among whites 
was expected. How great a disparity ex- 
isted was fully demonstrated after the 



first months of testing. (Table 5) 



In addition to the General Classifica- 
tion Test the Army also gave newly in- 
ducted men a Mechanical Aptitude Test. 
While both Negroes and whites, in gen- 
eral, scored lower on the Mechanical 
Aptitude Test than on the AGCT, here 
the racial disparities between the high- 



est and lowest classes were, as would be 
expected from an examination of the 
vocational opportunities and experi- 
ences of Negroes, even more marked. 
(Table 6)\ 

Scores and Units 

While the percentages of illiterate and 
low-scoring Negroes were much higher 
on both tests than among whites, their 
numbers were no greater. The prob- 
lem created centered therefore not 
around the numbers of low-scoring men 
to be absorbed by the Army (for the 
total percentage in each grade, as shown 
in the totals columns of Tables 5 and 6, 
was not markedly affected by the inclu- 
sion of Negroes) but around the high 
percentages to be absorbed in specific, 
separate units. Because of the biracial 
organization of the Army, this problem 
became immeasurably greater among 
Negro than among white units. The 
351,951 (8.5 percent) white AGCT 
Grade V men inducted between March 
1941 and December 1942 could be dis- 
tributed among the total of 4,129,259 
white men received, while the 216,664 
(49.2 percent) Negro men received in 
the same period— 135,000 men fewer— 
could be distributed only among the 
total of 440,162 Negro men received. 
Low-scoring white men could be distrib- 
uted as fillers to existing white units and 
installations containing men who had 
already had varying amounts of training. 
The further progress of these units and 
installations was not seriously hampered 
by the addition of relatively small num- 
bers of slow learners. The cushion of 
trained Negro men already in units in 
early 1941 was small. The few Negro 
units were therefore much less able to 
absorb slow learners. The mechanical 



244 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Table 5 — Distribution of Army General Classification Test Scores 
March 1941-December 1942 



AGCT 
Grade 


White 


Negro 


Total 


No. 


Percent 


No. 


Percent 


No. 


Percent 




4,129,259 


100.0 


440, 162 


100.0 


4.569,421 


100.0 


I 


273,626 
1,154,700 
1,327,164 
1,021,818 

351,951 


6.6 
28.0 
32. 1 
24.8 

8.5 
90.4 


1,580 
14,891 
54,302 
152,725 
216,664 


0.4 
3.4 
12.3 
34.7 
49.2 
9.6 


275,206 
1,169,591 
1,381,466 
1,174,543 

568,615 


6.0 
25.6 
30.2 
25.7 
12.5 
100.0 


II 


Ill 


IV 


V 













Source: Tab A, Memo, G-3 for CofS, 10 Apr 43, AG 201.6 (19 Mar 43) (1). 



aptitude problem was an even greater 
one within units. For example, the me- 
chanical aptitude distribution of 2,136 
Negro soldiers arriving at Camp Gordon 
Johnston for training in the fall of 1943 
as amphibian truck drivers was: 

MA T Grade Percentage 

I 0.4 

II 1.5 

III .10.2 

IV 31.1 

V 56.8 



The skills of these men were comparably 
underdeveloped: 15 





Re- 


Avail- 


Short 


Job 


quired 


able 


age 


Mechanic, auto 


156 


39 


117 


Repairman, 








auto body 


72 


4 


68 


Welder, 








combination 


36 


9 


27 


Amphibian 








truck driver 


1,188 


365 


823 



ls Mil Tng Div OCofTC, Transportation Corps 
History— Training of Units, Feb 45, p. 48, MS 
OCMH. 



Although illiterate and unskilled men 
were an Army-wide problem, the aver- 
age white unit could expect to receive, 
in the normal course of events, a few 
illiterate and low-scoring men, while 
the average Negro unit could be equally 
certain of receiving up to half of its men 
in the unskilled, illiterate, and Grade 
V classifications. 

With or without classification tests as 
verifying evidence of the poorer civilian 
backgrounds of Negro inductees, the 
training of units formed primarily from 
men from the lower economic and cul- 
tural strata of American life would have 
presented difficulties. But the tests and 
test scores had a negative as well as a 
positive aspect in the classification and 
training of Negro enlisted men. Since 
the bulk of Negroes fell in the two lowest 
classes, their scores served as a psycho- 
logical barrier to effective training. 
Officers and training headquarters, ex- 
pecting a normal spread of classification 
and aptitude grades, tended to assume 
that any other distribution was fatal to 
success in training. To officers and 



UNITS: MEN AND TRAINING 



245 



Table 6 — Mechanical Aptitude Test Score Distributions for Men Processed 
at Reception Centers, September-December 1942 





White 


Negro 


Tota 


1 




Grade 


































No. 


Percent 


No. 


Percent 


No. 


Percent 




Total 


1,800,413 


100.0 


180,863 


100.0 


1,981 ,276 


100 





I 


72,224 


4.0 


223 


0.1 


72,447 


3 


7 


II 


343,178 


19.1 


2,682 


1.5 


345,860 


17 


5 


Ill 


623,968 


34.6 


14,579 


8.1 


638,547 


32 


2 


IV 


494,305 


27.5 


44,836 


24.8 


339,141 


21 


2 


V 


266,738 


14.8 


118,543 


65.5 


385,281 


19 


4 



Source: Tab A, Memo, G-3 for CofS, 10 Apr 43, AG 201.« (19 Mar 43) (1). 



training supervisors, the low cross-sec- 
tional scores of Negro units became por- 
tents of inevitable training failure about 
which little could be done. Further- 
more, although the psychologists who 
developed the tests insisted that their 
results should not be equated with a 
measurement of absolute intelligence, 
the nonpsychologists who made up the 
bulk of the Army users of the tests early 
and consistently referred to AGCT 
scores as indexes of intelligence. If the 
tests measured the ease with which a 
civilian could learn to be a soldier, why 
wasn't it a test of intelligence? If white 
soldiers consistently rated higher than 
Negro soldiers in their AGCT scores 
why was not the conclusion that Negro 
soldiers were of inferior intelligence jus- 
tified? Granted that a background of 
poor educational and cultural oppor- 
tunities produced low scores, was this 
not evidence that poor background 
stunted mental growth and thereby pro- 
duced poor intelligence? The tests 
themselves, with their results coldly 
recorded in finite figures, therefore be- 
came a hazard to effective training. 



The Army's psychologists, while warn- 
ing against the use of AGCT scores as 
"intelligence" indexes, neglected to add 
a warning against comparing scores of 
men from two different groups whose 
backgrounds and prior experiences were 
not parallel. For tests to show com- 
parable aptitudes, both groups should 
have had relatively the same familiarity 
with the language and concepts used; 
formal schooling should have been com- 
parable, not only in grades available and 
completed but also in the content and 
quality of the courses; motivation and 
rapport with testers should have been 
about the same. 16 In most of these re- 
spects, Negro and white troops taking 
the same AGC test differed. Even if 
the tests had been designed to take into 
consideration the cultural and economic 
backgrounds of the two groups of sol- 
diers, methods of administering the tests 
would probably have prevented obtain- 
ing truly comparable scores. And if the 
administrative circumstances could have 
been kept identical, the two groups 

"Otto Klineberg, Race Differences (New York: 
Harper and Brothers, 1935) , pp. 152-77. 



246 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



tested still could not be compared abso- 
lutely on the basis of the original tests, 
for they had been standardized with the 
mid-point of the scale at "the central 
tendency of the distribution of scores 
made by the adult white male popula- 
tion of military age." 17 

Unfavorable AGCT distributions 
prevalent among Negro troops were used 
in some arms and services to justify re- 
strictive practices in the employment of 
Negro manpower. 18 They provided a 
ready explanation in resisting public 
pressures for the wider use of Negro 
troops. 19 Preoccupation with AGCT 
scores reached such a point in some units 
and training centers that attempts at 



17 Walter V. Bingham, "Personnel Classification 
Testing in the Army," Science, C (September 29, 
1944) , 276. In later standardizations, Negro sam- 
ples were included. 

16 In arguing against the use of medical sanitary 
company personnel in general hospitals as origi- 
nally planned, the Medical Department, for ex- 
ample, wrote: 

It cannot be expected that individuals with such 
degrees of intelligence as manifested in the Army 
General Classification Tests . . . can be entrusted 
with the care of the sick or trained to perform 
the more technical functions incident thereto. This 
is in keeping with the study submitted by G-3 
which states that at the present time it has been 
found necessary to recommend the demobilization 
of certain colored units because of low intelligence. 
. . . It is not expected that such people should 
be used in the care of the sick, except for those 
very few who may be employed in the care of the 
sick of their own race at those places where 
colored medical service has been established. 

Memo, OSG (Brig Gen Albert G. Love) for Col 
James Wharton (G-i), 5 May 41, SGO 291.8 (Ne- 
gro Pers) . 

1B Memo, Maj Claude B. Ferenbaugh for Maj Gen 
[Wade H.] Haislip, 29 Apr 41, and covering note, 
Maj Bowman for ASWA Lovett, ASWA 291.21 
(4-29-41) ; Memo, G-3 for CofS, 3 Dec 41, and 
Memo, G-3 for Col [W. B.] Smith, SGS, 4 Dec 41, 
G-3/6541-Gen; Ltr, William H. Hastie, Civ Aide 
to SW, n.d., OCS/20602-219; Memo, DCofS for 
USW, 16 Feb 4a, ASW 291.2 Race. 



effective classification and training were 
virtually abandoned. 

Unit after unit complained formally 
of the poor "intelligence" distribution 
of the men it was receiving. Many of 
the complaints, in the light of expected 
distributions, seemed justified, especially 
when combined with the numbers of 
illiterates received in some units. 20 Sev- 
eral of the larger Negro units, formed 
before the initial restrictions on the in- 
duction of illiterates were made in May 
1941, judged themselves to be severely 
handicapped in terms of the new stand- 
ards. The 367th Infantry, the new 
Negro Regular Army regiment activated 
in March 1941, requested permission 
to discharge 815 illiterates whom it 
would not have received under the new 
standards. The Third Army, in for- 
warding this request to the War De- 
partment, observed that its 46th Field 
Artillery Brigade and 93d Engineer Bat- 
talion were no better off, and recom- 
mended that the illiterates from these 
Negro units be transferred to service 
organizations. The War Department 
approved the transfers "when and if new 
Colored units of a labor type" became 
available. 21 

But, since Negro units of all types 
were being made available at a rate 
barely able to absorb incoming selectees, 
units which began with an overload of 
substandard men were generally unable 

M The term "illiterate" was used by units to 
refer to low-literates as well as to completely il- 
literate men. At times it included all Grade V 
scorers as well. "Illiterate," as used by units to 
describe their men, was therefore a flexible term, 
meaning generally men who could not read with 
facility or understanding, as well as the completely 
unlettered men. 

21 Ltr, Hq 367th Inf Regt, Cp Claiborne, La., 2 
May 41, to CG Third Army, and 3 Inds, AG 350.5 
(5-83-4') (1) • 



UNITS: MEN AND TRAINING 



247 



Table 7 — Army General Classification Test Scores of Enlisted Personnel, 
46th Field Artillery Brigade, Camp Livingston, Alabama 

30 April 1942 



Unit 


G 


rade 1 


Grad 


e IL 


Grad 


e III 


Grade 


IV 


Grade 


V 

Per- 
cent 


Total 


No. 


Per- 
cent 


No. 


Per- 
cent 


No. 


Per- 
cent 


No. 


Per- 
cent 


No. 




2 


.023 


117 


2.6 


495 


13.8 


1,053 


25.6 


3,615 


57.8 


5,282 


Hq Btry 46th FA 








10 


8 


36 


29 


37 


30 


42 


33 


125 


























350th FA Band. . . . 











0.0 


5 


20 


11 


44 


9 


36 


25 


350th FA 








32 


2.3 


125 


9 


296 


22 


933 


68 


1,386 


351st FA 








32 


2.0 


148 


10 


278 


20 


1,034 


69 


1,492 


353d FA 


2 


.14 


26 


2.0 


118 


8 


256 


18 


996 


71 


1,398 


846th TD Bn 








17 


2.0 


63 


7 


175 


20 


601 


70 


856 



Source: Incl 1, Ltr, Hq IV Army Corps, OTIG, Cp Beauregard, La., to CG IV Army Corps, 15 Jun 42, AGE 333.1/13 
(IV Army Corps). [Tables corrected.] 



to exchange them with other units. 
The 46th Field Artillery Brigade, cited 
by the Third Army, still had an unfav- 
orable distribution of Army General 
Classification Test scores at the end of 
April a year later. (Table 7) The 
Inspector General now recommended 
that a portion of the Grade V men in this 
unit be replaced by men in higher 
grades. The IV Army Corps thought 
that at least a thousand of the unit's 
3,651 Grade V men should be trans- 
ferred from the brigade. But the bri- 
gade was authorized to transfer 250 men 
only. They were to go to two new ord- 
nance ammunition companies. The 
ordnance companies were to supply the 
brigade with replacements from among 
the best men whom they received as 
fillers. 22 

Problems of score and skills distribu- 



22 3d and 4th Inds to Ltr, Hq IV Army Corps to 
CG IV Army Corps, 15 Jun 42, AGF 333.1/13 (IV 
Army Corps) . 



tions plagued Negro units continuously. 
The Armored Force, having received 
excessive numbers of low-scoring Negro 
fillers, asked in 1942 that reception cen- 
ters be required to send physically quali- 
fied Negroes with scores not lower than 
Grade IV to Negro tank battalions. 23 
The 1st Airbase Security Training 
Group reported in 1943 that in a four- 
month period it had received 4,600 "un- 
culled" fillers for ten battalions. Of 
these, 91 percent were in Grades IV and 
V with over 50 percent in Grade V. 
The 9 percent remaining were not 
enough to provide the necessary non- 
commissioned officers and specialists for 
ten battalions. 24 One antiaircraft bat- 
talion protested in 1942 that the unsatis- 
factory state of its records disclosed by an 



23 Ltr, Hq Armd Force to CG AGF, 20 Aug 42, 
AGF 322.999/125. 

24 Ltr, CO 1st Air Base Security Tng Gp, Cp 
Rucker, Ala., to CG Second Army, 20 Mar 43, AGF 
327-3/459- 



248 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



inspection was caused by the lack of ade- 
quate clerks. Of the ten battery clerks 
and assistants, three were in AGCT 
Grade III, six in Grade IV, and one in 
Grade V. They were incompetent and 
showed little interest in improving their 
efficiency. "These clerks are fully 
aware of the improbability of disration 
[reduction in rank], owing to a dearth 
of suitable intelligent replacements," an 
inspector reported. The situation in 
this unit was soon to be aggravated by 
the loss of a battalion cadre and of men 
entering officer candidate schools. 25 

Complaints about the receipt of ex- 
cessive numbers of low-scoring and un- 
skilled men were usually answered with 
a reference to the generally poor AGCT 
and experiential distribution among Ne- 
gro selectees. Preferential standards, 
the War Department explained, could 
not be established while most other Ne- 
gro units had equally unfavorable dis- 
tributions. In some instances, as in the 
case of the antiaircraft battalion men- 
tioned above, the total percentages of 
Negroes in Grades I, II, and III in the 
units and training centers of the request- 
ing branch were higher than similar per- 
centages for the Army as a whole. In 
these cases commands were told to search 
their service units for men qualified for 
more technical jobs. 26 

Screening Proposals 

Various types of screening programs 
to provide men having higher scores for 

a Ltr, TIG Cp Stewart, Ga„ to CG AAATC Cp 
Stewart, Ga., 5 Dec 42, and 3d Ind, Hq AA Comd, 
AG 220.31 (12-5-42) OC-T (1-16-43). 

w 6th Ind, TAG to AGF (Hq AA Comd). 16 
Jan 43, to Ltr, TIG Cp Stewart, Ga., to CG 
AAATC Cp Stewart, 5 Dec 42, AG 220.31 (12-5-42) 
OC-T (1-16-43). 



selected units were suggested from time 
to time but these presented practical 
difficulties which generally prevented 
their use. 27 In the first place, all units 
required a measure of higher-scoring 
men to provide a necessary minimum of 
capable noncommissioned officers. The 
suggestion had been made that such 
service units as port battalions might 
solve this problem by using white non- 
commissioned officers and Negro labor- 
ers, thus releasing qualified Negro ad- 
ministrative and leadership personnel to 
tactical units. The morale problem 
created by any proposal which denied 
the possibility of advancement within 
their own units to Negro enlisted men 
was considered well-nigh insurmount- 
able. 28 Nevertheless, this proposal for 
the use of white noncommissioned offi- 
cers, especially as it related to service 
units, continued to crop up from time to 
time. 29 

Nowhere was the poor distribution of 
high-scoring men felt so keenly as in the 
Negro divisions. The distribution in 
each division was always heaviest in the 
lowest AGCT grades. Despite several 
attempts to correct the divisional situa- 
tion, no workable means of doing so was 
discovered. Despite the fact that large 
numbers of inapt men had been cleared 
from the 93d Division during its training 
period, regiments of the division arrived 



27 1st Ind, Office of Civ Aide to SW, 2 Jul 42, to 
G-3, on Memo, G-3 for Judge Hastie, zg Jun 42, 
WDGCT 220.3 (5-9-42) . 

28 Citing this reason, Brig. Gen. John C. H. Lee, 
then commanding the new San Francisco Port of 
Embarkation, requested that if port units assigned 
there were to be NegTO, noncommissioned officers 
should also be Negro. Memo for Colonel [Orlando] 
Ward, 13 May 41, sub: Tel Call from General 
Lee, PofE, San Francisco, AG 320.2 (5-13-41) (1) . 

28 Memo, G-3 for CG's ASF, AGF, AAF, 23 Mar 
43, WDGCT 291.21 (3-23-43) . 



UNITS: MEN AND TRAINING 



249 



overseas with AGCT distributions 
which normally would have been con- 
sidered prohibitive of effectiveness. 30 

Before its formal activation, the g2d 
Division attempted to obtain a more 
favorable distribution of skills and abil- 
ity than would be expected from a ran- 
dom shipment of fillers. The division 
argued that its units at Fort McClellan, 
Alabama, could expect to receive a large 
percentage of their fillers from the 
Fourth Service Command. These fill- 
ers would not meet the requirements of 
a division. It requested a special sched- 
ule instead, with reception centers 
supplying men according to requirement 
rates for each type of unit. The War 
Department approved a special sched- 
ule, based not on the likelihood of ob- 
taining high-scoring men but on the 
basis of past proportions of Negroes fur- 
nished by each service command. 31 
While the headquarters and special 
troops units received a disproportion- 
ately high percentage of men from the 
Second and Fifth Service Commands- 
over three-fourths of all the men re- 
ceived by the division came from these 



30 The AGCT distribution of the 369th Infantry, 
the one all-new non-Regular regiment in the di- 
vision, on 1 September 1944 was, for example: 





Number 




Grade 


of Men 


Percentage 


Total 


3,010 


100.00 


I 


4 


0.13 


11 


80 


2.62 


Ill 


319 


10.60 


IV 


1,290 


42.85 


V 


1,317 


43.80 



Hist Rpt, 369th Inf Regt, Supplementary Papers, 
AGO 393-70.4 (21783). 

a Memo, AGF G-i for AGO Classification and 
Replacement Branch, 11 Aug 42, AGF 328.999/1 
(Cld Trps) (R) . 



Northern areas— the division's regimental 
combat teams were left to absorb an 
equally disproportionate number of men 
from the Southern Fourth and Eighth 
Service Commands. If the purpose had 
been to provide the division with a true 
cross-section of the nation's Negro 
manpower, such a schedule would have 
been adequate; if it was to guarantee a 
higher percentage of high-scoring and 
skilled men such a schedule could not 
have been successful. For, as with Ne- 
gro troops as a whole, the fillers for the 
g2d came in largest numbers from the 
areas that had previously furnished not 
only the largest percentages of men but 
also the largest proportions of low-scor- 
ing men. 

In the spring of 1943, G-3 proposed 
that all of the 7,000 Grade V men then 
in the Q2d Division in excess of 10 per- 
cent be screened out and replaced by 
higher-scoring men. The Grade V sol- 
diers could be used in new quartermaster 
service battalions and similar units, un- 
der noncommissioned officers especially 
selected for the purpose. Men from 
replacement training centers could pro- 
vide enlisted leadership for the division's 
new personnel. On further study it de- 
veloped that, in order to obtain 7,000 
replacements with higher scores, it 
would be necessary to induct and screen 
12,500 men, of whom 5,500, based on 
past induction experiences, would be 
Grade Vs. These low-scoring men 
added to the original 7,000 taken from 
the division would comprise 12,500 men 
—almost enough for another division— 
to be placed in other units. There 
were not enough unactivated units in 
the troop basis to absorb this many 
Grade V men at once, nor was there a 
source from which their "selected" non- 



250 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



commissioned officers, who would have 
to be obtained over and above the 
12,500 figure, could be obtained. More- 
over, the replacement center men whom 
the Ground Forces had originally hoped 
to use as selected noncommissioned 
officers for the g2d Division were, dur- 
ing the period of discussion, already 
dispersed to other units. To embark 
on another projected induction and 
training plan to obtain sufficient high 
scorers to provide noncoms for 12,500 
Grade V's, increased by the number of 
additional low scorers it would be neces- 
sary to induct in order to obtain the 
required high-scoring noncoms for the 
original 12,500, looked like mounting a 
permanent treadmill. Moreover, Army 
Service Forces protested the proposal 
because of the effect which it would have 
on future service units. Army Ground 
Forces therefore recommended that the 
plan be dropped. 32 

Screening proposals for units of less 
than divisional size might fail for reasons 
other than that of the sheer numbers in- 
volved. The time needed to arrive at 
a decision and the then current location 
of the unit might affect plans adversely. 
The 76th Coast Artillery (AA) , one of 
the pair of antiaircraft regiments acti- 
vated in August 1940 and therefore one 
of the oldest of the new Negro units in 
the Army, had, in March 1941, the fol- 
lowing AGCT distribution among its 
new selectees: AGCT Grade I, none; 
II, 2; III, 28; IV, 124; V, 385; illiterate, 
351; unclassified, 7; total, 897. Accord- 
ing to basic classification theory, this 
group of selectees should have been able 

"Memo, G-3 for CG AGF, 5 Mar 43. WDGCT 
2gi.2i (1-14-43); G-3 Rpt, Min Advisory Com on 
Negro Trp Policies, ssa Mar 43, ASW agi.2-Com; 
Min Gen Council, 15 Mar 43. 



to produce only thirty noncommissioned 
officers at best. Of these, only two 
would have been eligible for OCS con- 
sideration. This unit, like others, com- 
plained of the poor material sent it but, 
receiving no other, proceeded to do the 
best that it could. In May 1942, when 
the regiment had completed the major 
part of its training and was tactically 
disposed in the Eastern Defense Com- 
mand, a representative of the Second 
Corps Area Engineer answered the unit's 
call to check its malfunctioning search- 
lights. He reported: 

The condition of their lights is directly 
traceable to a lack of preventive main- 
tenance and maladjustment of the equip- 
ment through ignorance and inaptitude of 
the operating personnel. The non-commis- 
sioned officers, as well as the men of lower 
grades are, in general, lacking in the quali- 
fications necessary for the successful oper- 
ation of a Searchlight Battery. They do 
not have sufficient capacity for understand- 
ing and mechanical instinct is lacking. In- 
spection of equipment indicated that even 
the simplest adjustments and operations 
were not being correctly performed, even 
though the men had been told repeatedly 
how to do them. The non-commissioned 
officers cannot be trusted to do any of the 
second echelon work without continuous 
officer supervision, which is impossible with 
the myriad of other duties officers must per- 
form in the course of a normal day. 

Men of the caliber of those in this regi- 
ment, the Engineer concluded, should 
not have been assigned to operate such 
"delicate and expensive" equipment. 33 
This single paragraph contains the basic 
elements of most complaints about the 
quality of Negro enlisted men and its 
effect on units. 



33 Lit, Engr Hq Second Corps Area to CofE, 9 
May 42, in AGF 353/1 (CAC Tng) . 



UNITS. MEN AND TRAINING 



251 



The report on the 76th Coast Artillery 
received serious attention from several 
agencies but none thought that much 
could be done about the unit so long as 
it continued with its existing low-scoring 
personnel. Like the analysis, suggested 
methods for improvement contained the 
basic elements of most correctives ad- 
vanced to meet such complaints. The 
antiaircraft command concluded that the 
unit's main problem was that "colored 
soldiers lack the mechanical interest and 
capacity for understanding searchlight 
operation and maintenance," since few 
had had mechanical or technical experi- 
ence in civilian life. It predicted that 
other Negro antiaircraft regiments 
awaiting activation would be no better 
off, and suggested that it was a mistake 
to man such units with Negro personnel 
in the first place. u Army Ground 
Forces thought that similar conditions 
prevailed in other Negro units of this 
type, but envisioning no hope of stop- 
ping the activation of additional Negro 
antiaircraft regiments, proposed extend- 
ing their training time. 35 Judge Hastie 
felt that these were dangerous generali- 
zations and assumptions based on incom- 
plete data; such generalizations were 
often cited and acted upon long after 
surrounding circumstances were forgot- 
ten. He suggested that evaluations of 
the 369th Antiaircraft, which had a 
higher caliber of enlisted men and non- 
commissioned officers, and of the 99th 
and 100th Regiments, might produce 
different conclusions about the suitabil- 
ity of Negroes for antiaircraft employ- 
ment. Judge Hastie agreed that the 

* ad Ind, Hq AAC to Hq AGF, 4 Jun 42, 
470.3/K, to Ltr cited [n~3H] 

36 3d Ind. Hq AGF to TAG, AGF 322.17/2 (76th 
CA) GNOPN, to Ltr cited |n. 33.] 



men of the unit under study were not 
of the best quality, but the blame lay, 
he felt, with faulty classification and as- 
signment procedures. He had seen the 
regiment's first contingent of men 
shortly after they arrived. They "were 
mostly young men from the rural south, 
many of them illiterates at loose ends in 
the community, who had volunteered or 
had been called for induction at the top 
of the Selective Service list." Reception 
centers, Hastie continued, had made no 
effort to select men particularly fitted 
for antiaircraft work. As a result, the 
76th 's men were below the average of 
Negro soldiers, including those in service 
organizations. Hastie recommended 
mass transfers of higher-scoring men 
from service organizations to combat 
units where they would be of more 
value. The large induction centers 
near industrial and urban areas should 
be authorized to send to the 76th Coast 
Artillery 50 or 100 men with high 
AGCT scores. 36 

These remedies— elimination of unit 
types, extending training periods, trans- 
ferring substandard men, and preferen- 
tial selection for combat units— were to 
be suggested frequently in 1942 and 
1943. At times these suggestions had 
overtones of the post-World War I sug- 
gestions that Negro troops be divided 
into a few elite combat and a mass of 
service units. In most cases, as in this 
case, nothing happened. By the time 
discussion of the 76th Coast Artillery 
was concluded, the summer was half 
over. The unit had left the Eastern 
Defense Command and was already over- 



™ 1st Ind, OCA to SW, a Jul 4a, to G-3 on 
Memo, G-3 for Judge Hastie, 29 Jun 42, WDGCT 
aso.3 (5-9-42)- 



252 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



seas. 37 G-3 hoped that in the future 
units under the defense commands 
could be given refresher training that 
would obviate difficulties such as those 
affecting the 76th Coast Artillery. Sig- 
nificantly, this was the only indication 
by a commenting agency or echelon that 
a part of the remedy might be found 
outside the area of the unit's AGCT 
distribution. Later, after the urgency 
of coastal defense had passed, the prob- 
lem of retraining or converting other 
units, white and Negro, assigned to de- 
fense commands, became an important 
one. 

Only in the Air Forces were screening 
techniques for Negro technical and com- 
bat units both possible and effective. 
The Air Forces, having stated at the 
outset that it doubted the possibility of 
finding enough Negroes to fill the re- 
quired skilled positions in air combat 
and technical units, proceeded on the 
assumption that initial screening was 
even more vital to its Negro than to its 
white units. It was better able to fol- 
low through on its screening processes 
than either the ground or the service 
forces. It had fewer combat and techni- 
cal units in proportion to the numbers 
of Negroes in the command. Highly 
qualified men could be transferred or 
diverted from its large proportion of 
service units, most of which, like the 
aviation squadrons, required few spe- 
cialists. The greater attractiveness of 
the Air Corps as a branch of service and 
the opportunities to volunteer for service 
with this branch caused a larger number 
of more highly qualified Negroes to at- 
tempt to get into the Air Forces either 
through the aviation cadet boards or 

37 Memo, G-3 for Judge Hastie, 8 Aug 42, 
WDGCT 320.3 (5-9-42) . 



through volunteering for specific units. 
As a result of the limited flying training 
program for Negroes, the Air Forces had 
a reserve supply of highly qualified avi- 
ation cadets rejected in single-engine 
flying training who, until 1943 when 
some became available for transfer to 
the Field Artillery for liaison pilot train- 
ing, were ineligible for any other type of 
flying training and who, therefore, could 
be assigned to the combat or technical 
units activated at Tuskegee as needed 
enlisted men. Tuskegee itself was a 
miniature replacement depot, able to 
transfer men to units where they could 
be more readily utilized. Moreover, 
the Air Forces had virtually complete 
control over the internal distribution of 
selectees to its units. 

Plans for the original Negro air units 
called for men with particular skills and 
ratings. The original 97 Negro select- 
ees for the Air Corps, for example, were 
drawn from a much larger number of 
men already in units. They fitted re- 
quired specification serial numbers. 38 
The 276 recruits for the first Air Corps 
unit— the men who, with the 97 selectees, 
were later to be assigned to the 99th 
Fighter Squadron— were drawn from 
volunteer 3-year enlistment applicants 
coming from all over the country. Be- 
sides meeting general Air Corps enlist- 
ment standards, they had to pass the 
examination for the Air Corps Technical 
School prior to being enlisted. At the 
time, approximately 50 percent of all 
white Air Corps enlistees failed to qual- 
ify for further training in technical 
schools. The examination requirement 
not only assured the new Negro unit a 
higher quality of enlisted cadre from the 

^Ltr, OCofAC to TAG, 18 Mar 41, AG 3S4.71 
(3-18-40 - 



UNITS: MEN AND TRAINING 



253 




ft 




f. 



99th Fighter Squadron Trainees sending and receiving code at Tuskegee. The in- 
structor was formerly in the 39th Coast Artillery Antiaircraft Brigade. 



beginning, but it also enabled the Air 
Corps to avoid enlisting 550 or more 
Negro 3-year volunteers to obtain 276 
qualified men. 39 

For other technical units the Air 
Forces followed similar initial screening 
methods. For its 689th Signal Report- 
ing Company, Aircraft Warning, Fron- 
tier, scheduled for task force use by 1 
September 1942, the Air Forces had only 

58 Memo, G-i for TAG, 4 Mar 41, G-1/15640-75. 



one officer and three enlisted men on 15 
May 1942. The Signal Corps, at the 
time, was producing neither Negro offi- 
cers at its OCS nor enlisted men at its 
RTC's. The Air Forces therefore ar- 
ranged with The Adjutant General's 
Office that out of the first week's quota 
of Negro selectees received in June 1942, 
g6 men, all high school graduates or 
better and all in the top three AGCT 
grades, would be earmarked for the 



254 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



689th. It was willing to take five Negro 
officers with "some" radio or communi- 
cations experience wherever it could find 
them. 40 From this group it proceeded 
to build a unit which was highly re- 
garded throughout its career. 

As a result, Air Forces Negro technical 
and combat units were generally, in 
AGCT scores and technically qualified 
men, closer to normal than other Negro 
units. 41 Where proficient specialists 
were not available for these units, men 
of higher potentialities learned the du- 
ties of forecaster, armorer, or mechanic 
about as rapidly as white men of equiva- 
lent scores, among whom there were also 
many with little experience in the newer 
fields in which there was a huge national 
shortage of trained men. The Air 
Forces also used reverse screening at 
times, with training centers requesting 
low-scoring men, white or Negro, in ex- 
change for potential specialists. 42 

Contributing to the failure of plans to 
guarantee higher-scoring men to specific 
Negro units was the disbelief of certain 
staff and command agencies in the im- 
portance of AGCT scores. They in- 
sisted that, with good leadership, 
effective units could be formed despite 
disproportionately low AGCT scores. 
They felt that, with few exceptions, men 
with low scores would make good sol- 



*>Ltr, Hq AAF to SOS, 15 May 42, and attached 
M/R, AAF 210.31 Assignment of Offs. 

"The range for the 477th Bombardment Group, 
for example, was lower in the two end classes, but 
higher in the upper-middle range: Grade I, 1.4 
percent; II, 43 percent; III, 41 percent; IV, 30 per- 
cent; and V, 4.6 percent. Hist, 477th Bombardment 
Gp, 15 Jan-ig Jul 44, Air Force Hist Div, 

'-'5th Ind, Hq AAF Gulf Coast Tng Center to 
CG AAF, 24 Jul 43, on Ltr, Hq Tech School, AAF 
TTC, Truax Fid, Wise, 21 Jun 43, to CG 2d Dist 
AAF TTC, St. Louis, Mo., and Inds, AAF 220.31 

#20. 



diers if not good leaders. This reason- 
ing applied to both white and Negro 
units. Before the Q2d Division's request 
for a more normal distribution than pre- 
vailing reception center assignment 
methods could insure, the 5th Armored 
Division had asked that corrections be 
made in the score distributions of its 
fillers. The Services of Supply refused 
to consider the request, declaring that it 
believed that 67 percent of Grade V 
men were capable of becoming accept- 
able soldiers, 29 percent could be used to 
advantage in limited service, and only 
4 percent were of no use to the 
Army and therefore should be 
discharged. A score of 70, the di- 
viding line between AGCT Grades IV 
and V, SOS said, was the equivalent 
of a seventh or eighth grade education. 
Since the median educational level for 
men in the 1940 census was 8.3 school 
years, larger percentages in the two 
lower classes than previously predicted 
could be expected. Moreover, SOS 
continued, AGCT scores were variable, 
not fixed, and therefore might be raised 
through study and training, as Aberdeen 
Proving Ground had done with fifteen 
Grade V men, fourteen of whom had 
moved into Grade IV after receiving 
special training in reading. 43 A Ground 
Forces staff officer commented on a simi- 
lar request from the 81st Infantry Divi- 
sion: 

G— 1 sees no cause for alarm as an analysis 
shows that approximately 96% of the men 
who made Grade V on the AGC Test have 
had some schooling and of these over 30% 
have completed grade school or better. 
Most men classified in Grade V can be 
made into first class soldiers. The princi- 
pal difference being that we cannot expect 

"Memo, Dir Mil Pers Div SOS for CG AGF, 
21 May 42, SPGA/8645-514. 



UNITS: MEN AND TRAINING 



255 



to draw on this class for any proportion of 
leadership. 44 

Nor were all units and commanders 
in the field convinced that AGCT scores 
alone were deterrents to adequate train- 
ing. The Infantry Replacement Train- 
ing Center at Fort McClellan, for 
example, objected to a suggested man- 
datory increase in training periods for 
units with more than 45 percent of their 
personnel in Grades IV and V, warning 
that the measure would produce "ap- 
parent or real race discrimination," 
since all white troops could be so dis- 
tributed that no white training unit 
would have an excessive number of low- 
scoring men. "In respect to colored 
troops," the center reported, "the per- 
centage of the present five battalions is 
84% of grades 4 and 5. It is not believed, 
however, that the achievement of the 
colored troops as a group in the mechan- 
ical elements of training subjects such 
as weapons firing, marches, etc., is much 
below that of white battalions. As a 
matter of fact, the colored are equal in 
many elements and superior in some." 46 

That the AGCT score was "not a re- 
liable index of the worth of a man" be- 
came accepted doctrine in many 
quarters. "There are many other qual- 
ities which must be taken into consid- 
eration such as perseverance, honesty, 
physical stamina and loyalty and loyalty 
is not the least of these," one com- 
mander of Negro troops told a training 
conference. 48 A commander of a Ne- 



"M/S, AGF G-i to DCofS, 29 Jul 42, AGF 
327.3/246 (Drafted Men) . 

"Memo, Hq IRTC Ft. McClellan, Ala., to CG 
R&SC, 24 Sep 43, AGF 353.01/68. 

* Unit Training, Address by Col Lawrence B. 
Wyant, Mil Tng Div Hq ASF, to Fourth ASF 
Tng Conf, Ft. Monmouth, N. J., 15-17 Mar 44, 
Files Fourth Conf, pp. 4-5. 



gro antiaircraft artillery regiment, de- 
scribing an educational program for his 
troops, said ". . . I have come to the 
fixed opinion that the AGCT is not 
worth a damn with colored troops. I 
have a 1st Sergeant in Group V that I 
will stack up against any Noncom in any 
army as a leader of men. And I know 
and am convinced that despite the rat- 
ings, I have one of the best groups of sol- 
diers in the Army right here in this 
Regiment." 47 

Nevertheless, reports from the bulk 
of units and inspectors continued to em- 
phasize the importance of AGCT scores. 
The number and insistence of such re- 
ports became so great that to ignore 
them was impossible. Low AGCT 
scores meant low intelligence and poor 
performance to most parts of the Army 
which had to deal directly with the 
training of units, largely Negro, with 
below average scores. Unfavorable 
AGCT score distributions were not con- 
fined to fillers for Negro units. Two 
divisions with low-score problems have 
been mentioned above. Nondivisional 
white units had similar problems. 48 

"Remarks, CO 99th CA (AA) Regt, to VD 
Symposium, go Jul 43, G-g 291.21. See also, 1st 
Ind, Hq SOS USF China, APO 627, to CG U.S. 
Forces China Theater, APO 290, AG 291.2 (23 
May 45) (2) . 

18 One corps reported that several of its white 
units were having AGCT score difficulties. Its 650th 
Engineer Topographical Battalion, a more highly 
specialized unit than most Negro units, had com- 
plained that of 103 fillers received, 70 percent were 
in Grades IV and V and 95 percent had less than 
a grade school education. The 50th Engineer Com- 
bat Battalion, a type of unit rarely used for Ne- 
groes, had 51 percent in Grades IV and V, while 
the 74th Ordnance Maintenance Battalion, a unit 
of another type seldom used to absorb Negroes, 
received 544 fillers in October 1942, 71 percent of 
whom were in Grades IV and V or illiterate. Ltr, 
CG IX Corps to Lt Gen Lesley J. McNair, CG 
AGF, 30 Nov 42, AGF 324.71/21* (Drafted Men). 



256 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Despite a tendency to misinterpret 
and overemphasize their importance, 
AGCT scores, or, rather, the poor aca- 
demic, vocational, and cultural back- 
grounds which they charted, were of 
singular significance to the careers of 
Negro enlisted men and their units. 
They were the one measure of potenti- 
alities upon which new units were built 
in most arms and services. They, cou- 
pled with occupational histories, were 
the visible evidence of the fitness of 
masses of otherwise anonymous men for 
assignment to different types of units 
and training centers. They were a basic 
criterion for the selection of men for 
leadership positions, officer or enlisted, 
regardless of other qualities which might 
be desired. Many Negro soldiers, on 
the basis of their scores alone, were re- 
stricted in their ability to take fullest 
advantage of the Army's huge and com- 
plex training program. Many units, as 
a result of low scores, found it impossible 
to obtain the necessary specialist training 
for sufficient numbers of their men, for 
many specialists' programs prescribed 
minimum AGCT scores before an appli- 
cation could be accepted. But the con- 
tinuing, all-embracing problem raised 
by the low AGCT grades prevalent in 
Negro units was their relationship to 
training units for effective use within the 
standard time periods allotted by train- 
ing programs. 

Despite the widespread discussion of 
the problem among commanders and 
staff agencies, it was impossible to say 
what the direct relationship was be- 
tween AGCT score distributions and 
unit training progress. It was logical to 
conclude that training difficulties in 
units made up of large numbers of illit- 
erate or near-literate men unable to 



make full use of the masses of training 
literature and printed training aids sup- 
plied by the Army would be greater 
than in units whose men came from en- 
vironments where all educational proc- 
esses—those of the home and the 
community as well as the school— com- 
bined to contribute to their general 
intellectual growth. To raise the level 
of Negro men entering the Army, 
preferably to the point where it would 
parallel, class by class, the AGCT 
groupings of white enlisted men, 
was one solution proposed in the spring 
°f : 943- I 1 would have been possible 
to take the existing AGCT percentages 
of white enlisted men and so control Ne- 
gro inductions that percentages in each 
AGCT grade would be approximately 
the same as those of white soldiers. 
Though this method, arrived at through 
limiting selectees to men with an eighth 
grade education (twice the fourth grade 
limitations for continentals), was later 
used with success for the induction of 
Puerto Rican troops, 49 it had several dis- 
advantages for use among continental 
Negro troops. In the first place, Army 
nondiscriminatory policies required that 
all rules and regulations be applied to 
Negroes and whites alike. Such a pro- 
cedure would have been immediately 
open to the charge of being discrimina- 
tory, since screening standards would be 
based on the scores of white troops with 
the implication that only units built in 
the AGCT image of existing white 
troops could be used by the Army. In 
the second place it would have reduced 
the intake of Negro inductees to too low 
a point to satisfy either the terms of the 

49 The Puerto Rican Induction Program and The 
Use of Puerto Rican Troops, sec. VI, Antilles De- 
partment Historical Studies, ch. IV, MS OCMH. 



UNITS: MEN AND TRAINING 



257 



Selective Service Act or the public pres- 
sures for the fuller use of Negroes. A 
third reason was that too drastic curbs on 
the induction of low-scoring manpower 
might work disadvantageously to the 
Army should larger numbers of Negroes 
or whites be needed as unskilled labor at 
any future date. Therefore, the prob- 
lem of raising the qualifications of Ne- 
gro inductees had to be discussed and 
applied within a framework of general 
requirements for all manpower and at 
the same time be so constructed that it 
would affect primarily the large num- 
bers of substandard Negro men eligible 
for military service. Plans and propos- 
als necessarily had to approach the prob- 
lem through efforts to raise the standards 
of border-line cases while insuring that 
the over-all numbers and the racial pro- 
portions of men received by the Army 
would not be affected. 

Special Training Plans 

Army and Mobilization Regulations 
had provided that commanders should 
establish special training schools or units 
for men of poor educational backgrounds 
when their numbers made such units 
advisable. The number of such local, 
unit-conducted schools for illiterates and 
low-literates increased rapidly in 1942 
and in early 1943. Since they were not 
centrally controlled or reporting units, 
their exact numbers and enrollment can- 
not be determined, but, in May 1943, 
just before centrally controlled special 
training units went into effect, 384 units 
and stations, Negro and white, were re- 
ceiving directly The Adjutant General's 
"Our War" and "The Newsmap Sup- 
plement," publications intended for use 
in literacy classes. Many more units 



were receiving these materials through 
local distribution agencies. 50 

The operation of unit and post con- 
trolled special training units provided 
an extra burden for commands which 
already had their hands filled with their 
normal training duties. Many com- 
manders were interpreting regulations 
to mean that the establishment of these 
units was mandatory.' 11 Some means of 
giving illiterates elementary courses in 
reading and writing before formally as- 
signing them to units had to be devised, 
for illiterates were a handicap to the 
receiving units. Though illiterates 
might be well received and quite useful, 
units had neither the time, the instruc- 
tors, nor the teaching aids to make them 
quickly available for regular training. 52 

The Services of Supply proposed by 
mid-1942 that centrally controlled "de- 
velopment" units, patterned after World 
War I development battalions, be estab- 
lished. Illiterates coming into the 
Army, SOS argued, were increasing and, 
because of the rule to take effect on 1 
August 1942, 53 they would continue to 
increase in numbers. Portable Civilian 
Conservation Corps buildings, and CCC 
instructors who were experienced in 
training illiterates, could be used to 
house and train these men. 54 While 
AAF and G-i concurred in the proposal, 



50 Among the units receiving materials directly 
were twenty-five divisions, including the 2d Cavalry 
and 02d Infantry Divisions. Llr, TAG to CO's 
Units and Posts, 28 May 43, AG 353 (3-28-43) 
OT-C. 

51 Memo, AGF for G-i, 27 Nov 42, AGF 353/2025 
GNGAP-I. 

62 Lt Col James L. Lewis, Notes on Service with 
the 93d Engineer Regt (GS) in Extreme Cold and 
Wet Cold Climates, Engr School 8715. 

M See above, |p. 241.1 

" Memos, CG SOS for CofS, 6 Jun 42 and 20 Jul 
42, SPGAE/8645-731. 



258 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



AGF and G-3 did not. The additional 
administrative and overhead load added 
by these units and the relatively small 
numbers of men to be trained militated 
against ready acceptance of the proposal. 

By the spring of 1943 G-3 was ready 
to propose its own plan. The new plan 
went considerably farther and was in- 
tended to do more than simply prepare 
illiterates and low-literates for regular 
training. It was designed to raise the 
general quality of Army enlisted men in 
three ways: (1) to screen all personnel 
at induction stations so as to eliminate 
all but the upper 10 percent of Grade 
V's, 55 (2) to discharge from the Army 
all men who had demonstrated their 
inability to absorb military training, and 
(3) to establish combination labor-de- 
velopment battalions to rehabilitate the 
remaining backward men. 56 The cur- 
rent percentage of Grade V's in Negro 
units was so high "as to present an almost 
insurmountable obstacle in the attempt 
to organize effective Negro units," G-3 
said. With the Army then scheduled to 
reach a maximum strength of 8,208,000 
officers and enlisted men and women, 
the necessary 783,000 Negroes, "the ma- 
jority of which must be assigned to tacti- 
cal units," should be as high a quality as 
possible. With shipping a bottleneck, 
G-3 continued, the War Department 
could send Negro units overseas only if 
they were not inferior to white units. 
Otherwise, in 1944, "Negro units will 
be piled up in the United States to an 
unwarranted degree and the Negro race 
will be denied its fair share of battle 
honors as well as battle losses." To mo- 



■ The percentage shifted as various proposals 
were considered during discussions of the plan. 

K Memo, G-3 for CofS, 10 Apr 43, AG ioi.6 (19 
Mar 43) (1) . 



bilize and train units which could not 
be used overseas was "a flagrant waste of 
manpower and time," G-3 argued. 
"The Army is open to severe and just 
criticism for this wasted Negro man- 
power which, if left in civil life, would 
contribute materially to an important 
phase of the war effort," 5T G-3 contin- 
ued. Most Negroes in the lowest 
AGCT classes were from the rural South, 
where they could best contribute to the 
war effort, G-3 felt, by remaining on 
the farms. Men in the higher classifi- 
cations were from the North, where few 
were deferred for essential activities. 
The proposed solution could be insti- 
tuted "without serious repercussion. 
The gain in the effectiveness of white 
units would not be so pronounced as in 
Negro units, but, "to avoid discrimina- 
tion," the plan must be applied to both 
white and Negro personnel. 

The plan itself was expected to work 
in this manner: 

1. After 1 May 1943, the Army would 
reject all selectees in Grade V in excess 
of 10 percent. A special "intelligence" 
test, combined with an interview at in- 
duction stations, would be designed to 
screen out men lacking the capacity to 
be soldiers while retaining men who 
lacked sufficient education to pass the 
general classification test. The men 
screened out would comprise approxi- 
mately the lower three-fifths of those 
currently classified in AGCT Grade V. 
As a result, approximately 1 percent of 
the whites and 20 percent of the Negroes 
then being accepted would be rejected. 
Since the Army had to accept 10.6 per- 
cent Negroes, Selective Service would 
have to increase its calls to insure the 



<" Ibid. 



UNITS: 



MEN AND TRAINING 



259 



Army's receipt of its required quota of 
Negroes. 

2. Within the Army, streamlined ma- 
chinery would be established to permit 
the speedy discharge, without stigma, of 
men found "as a result of actual lack of 
performance" and not as the result of 
test performances to be incapable of be- 
coming effective soldiers. 

3. Other men in the Army, classified 
in Grade V, would be transferred to 
units whose function was chiefly labor 
and which could use men with lower 
qualifications to best advantage. 

4. Backward men, not inapt enough 
to warrant discharge, were to be trans- 
ferred to rehabilitation or development 
battalions to be located at the larger 
posts in the continental United States. 
"These battalions would be combination 
labor and training battalions operating 
on a schedule in which days of labor on 
the post where stationed and days of 
training or instruction would be alter- 
nated." As soon as a man was suffi- 
ciently trained to be advanced to a unit, 
he would be transferred out of these 
battalions. 58 

Objections to the proposal— many of 
which were accepted by G— 3 before the 
final plan was presented for approval- 
were several. G-3 hoped that the com- 
bination labor-training provision for the 
battalions would soften basic objections 
to the plan's implied recognition of the 
Army's need to embark on a large-scale 
educational program. Army Ground 
Forces objected to the establishment of 
development battalions in any form; 
Army Air Forces wanted safeguards 
against potential malingering that it 
thought the plan involved; G-2 though 



also believing that the danger of maling- 
ering was a great one, was noncommittal. 
The Services of Supply had had grave 
doubts about the plan as originally pro- 
posed because of its provision for the 
rejection and discharge of large numbers 
of men, the larger percentage of whom 
would be Negroes. The plan "has been 
studied with the viewpoint that the 
Army only must be considered and that 
any sociological problems arising, as a 
result thereof must be disregarded," 
SOS observed. "However, it is consid- 
ered pertinent to point out that the plea 
of the southern states particularly those 
in the Southeast is 'when is the Army 
going to take more colored.' Any in- 
creased rejection of colored and in- 
creased return of colored now in the 
Army to civilian life will bring repercus- 
sions both economic and political," SOS 
feared. 89 

Neither the Services of Supply nor 
Truman Gibson, Acting Civilian Aide to 
the Secretary of War, agreed that an 
arbitrary line between men who could 
and who could not be used by the Army 
was possible as a result of existing tests. 
Gibson proposed that the original state- 
ment that units with an excess of Grade 
V men above 8 percent could not func- 
tion be re-examined. "Most Negro 
units have more than 8% Grade V 
men," he pointed out. "Certainly some 
of these have performed in competent 
and creditable manners. ... I know of 
no study in the War Department con- 
ducted in a large number of individual 
units for the purpose of ascertaining 
even an approximate percentage of 
Grade V men the different organizations 



58 Ibid. 



56 Memo, Mil Pers Div SOS for G-g, 19 Mar 43, 
AG 201.6 (j6 Mar 43) (1) . 



260 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



could effectively absorb." Standard 
AGC tests are not claimed to be meas- 
urements of intelligence, he continued. 
The ABC nonverbal test, when given, 
produced higher grades tor many men in 
Grade V. In the ABC, "more than 30% 
of the Negroes retested who have been 
placed in Grade V initially, in the 
AGCT, enter a higher classification, in 
some places going even to Grade I," Gib- 
son contended. Test scores were by no 
means the only factors involved in the 
training of Negro units; the manner of 
making assignments was just as impor- 
tant, he concluded. 60 

SOS also reminded G-3 that its arbi- 
trary statement of the Army's ability to 
use men rated as inferior according to a 
series of tests was subject to question. 
What was the essential difference be- 
tween a Grade IV and a Grade V man 
anyway? SOS wanted to know. All 
might be utilized if training schedules 
for slow learners were made more realis- 
tic and if development battalions, as sug- 
gested earlier by SOS, were put into use. 
The command hoped that limitations 
would be placed on their use: (1) intel- 
ligence rather than literacy should be 
stressed; (2) only the lower part of 
Group V rather than an arbitrary 90 to 
94 percent should be screened out; (3) 
each major component should continue 
to be required to accept Negroes in pro- 
portion to its size; (4) no transfers 
should be made from one command to 
another on the basis of test scores; (5) 
no mass discharges or transfers to devel- 
opment battalions of men who had had 
basic training should be made; (6) mo- 
bilization training of units should be 



"Memo, Actg Civ Aide to SW for G-3. 1 Apr 43, 
AG 201.6 (19 Mar 43) (1). 



geared to their capacity to learn— in 
many cases, for Negro units, at least 50 
percent slower than for white units; and 
(7) , Negro units should be sent overseas 
in definite proportions "in order that 
colored troops may receive their percent- 
age of casualties." 01 

General Davis, as a member of the 
Advisory Committee on Negro Troop 
Policies, approved the plan, but warned 
that the Grade V limitations might 
prove too stringent. "In this connec- 
tion," he observed, "I would state that 
during my tour of duty in the United 
Kingdom, I observed a number of col- 
ored units composed of a large number 
of Grade V men. These units were 
highly commended for the services being 
rendered. The port battalions were 
commended by the British officials from 
whom they had received instruction." 62 
Goldthwaite H. Dorr, Special Assistant 
to the Secretary of War, thought that, 
instead of being discharged, inapt and 
low-scoring men should be put on in- 
active duty in the same manner as men 
in the 38- to 45-year age group recently 
released by the Army. 63 

The revised draft, taking into consid- 
eration many of the proposals of other 
divisions, was presented to the Advisory 
Committee by General Edwards on 2 
April. The committee unanimously ap- 
proved it and recommended immediate 
adoption. 64 Subject to the inclusion of 
Dorr's suggestion, Secretary Stimson ap- 
proved the G-3 plan for Grade V per- 
sonnel. 

61 Memo, Dir of Mil Pers Div SOS for G-3, 19 
Mar 43, AG 201.6 (19 Mar 43) (1) . 

82 Memo, OTIG for G-3, 25 Mar 43, AG 201.6 
(19 Mar 43) (1) . 

83 Memo, Dorr to SW (initialed G.H.D. and 
H.L.S.) , 17 Apr 43, in AG 201.6 (ig Mar 43) (1) . 

a * Min Advisory Com, 2 Apr 43, ASW 291.2 NTC. 



UNITS: MEN AND TRAINING 



261 



The Plan in Operation 

The chief feature of the special train- 
ing plan in operation was not the elimi- 
nation of large numbers of Grade V 
men, as proposed in the original plan, 
but the institution of a new induction 
screening process and the establishment 
of new special training units for the 
more effective use of that portion of 
Grade V registrants which ranked high- 
est in potentialities. At induction 
stations, a preliminary interview estab- 
lished whether or not graduates of 
standard English-speaking schools were 
mentally qualified. Transcripts, certif- 
icates, and other proofs of schooling 
were accepted at this stage. Large 
numbers of men were thereby excused 
from further phases of the new induc- 
tion process and were declared eligible 
for induction. Mental qualification 
tests for induction were given to all men 
who could not present documentary 
proof of schooling. These tests were 
designed to screen out registrants who 
would make AGCT scores above the 
low r er three-fifths of Grade V. For 
illiterates and non-English-speaking 
men, a nonlanguage group test for the 
same purpose was available. For men 
failing the Mental Qualification Test, 
individual tests were given. All men 
failing the individual test were then 
interviewed again to prevent error and 
malingering. 65 

The new plan went into effect at in- 
duction stations in June 1943. At in- 
tervals, The Adjutant General reported 
that the plan was w r orking satisfactorily, 
and that the lower three-fifths of Grade 

m Memo, Classification and Repl Br AGD for 
Dir Mil Pers ASF, 27 Apr 43, AG 201.6 (19 Mar 
43)- 



V men already inducted were being 
eliminated while the 10.6 percentage of 
Negroes was being retained, the differ- 
ence being made up by the induction of 
larger numbers of illiterates who gave 
promise of higher potential abilities. 
Of the 40,446 men— 35,872 (88.7 per- 
cent) white and 4,574 Negroes (11.3 
percent)— processed between 1 and 5 
June at induction centers and between 
13 and 19 June at reception centers, 963 
(2.4 percent) Grade V's (420 of them 
white and 543 colored) and 1,159 ( 2 -9 
percent) illiterates (484 white and 675 
colored) were inducted. Of the total 
number of men inducted, 1.3 percent of 
the whites and 14.8 percent of the Ne- 
groes were illiterate. Though the men- 
tal qualification for illiterates had been 
raised, the percentage of illiterates in- 
ducted had risen from 1.7 to 2.9 percent. 
At the same time, the percentage of 
Grade V men inducted was being re- 
duced, for many inducted illiterates 
made higher scores on their nonverbal 
tests. Between January and April 1943, 
7.2 percent of all men inducted were in 
Grade V. With the elimination of the 
lower three-fifths of Grade V's, 2.8 per- 
cent would now be desired. During the 
period 13-19 June 1943, 2.4 percent of 
the men inducted were in Grade V, con- 
stituting a reduction of 3 percent for 
white and 24.3 percent for Negroes. Of 
the total number of men processed be- 
tween 13 and ig June, 11.3, slightly 
more than the required 10.6 percent, 
were Negroes. 66 

In many areas there was, nevertheless, 
objection to the new procedure. It re- 
jected too many men, especially Negroes, 

88 Memo and Incl, Classification and Repl Br 
AGD for Dir MPD ASF, 25 Jurr 43, AG 201.6 (19 
Mar 4.3) (1) . 



262 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



from a given group called. The Quali- 
fication Test, which had been purposely 
kept simple, was a primary target. 
From the Fort Jackson, Soutli Carolina, 
induction station came objections which 
embodied those of many other observers. 
At the station, 4,916 white men and 
4,756 Negroes were examined in June 
1943. Of these, 4,427 whites or 90.05 
percent and 2,360 Negroes or 49.62 per- 
cent were accepted. The disproportion- 
ate results, Fort Jackson argued, 
indicated that the tests had been stand- 
ardized for whites and that they were 
not applicable to Negroes: 

The Qualification Test No. 1 consists of 
seventeen questions, and the first type of 
questions are comparatively simple. For 
example: "write the smallest of the follow- 
ing numbers in the blank space; 142 175 
180 191 125," which, of course, is 125. This 
item is of elementary level and it does have 
general application, and we find that the 
white and negro respond with almost equal 
success on this item. The next four ques- 
tions deal with analysis. As for example: 
an arrow pointing between north and west, 
and the four points of the compass are 
given, the question is asked; "in which 
direction is the arrow pointing"? It is 
found that the negro misses this type of 
question in greater numbers than the white, 
because this demands a detection of the 
correct bearing of the direction and in in- 
terpreting this the relationships have a 
scheme. The negro, in the majority of 
cases interviewed, is seeing this for the first 
time, while the white has had many experi- 
ences in this type of thinking. It is felt 
that if the negro was given this question in 
the field he would have little trouble in 
answering it correctly. Hence, it is not felt 
that because the negro misses this question, 
that he does not have the intelligence to be 
able to answer the same question if given to 
him under regular conditions to which he 
is used to. . . . Item twelve, it is required 
to know the number of pounds in a ton. 
Since the adult negro has been out of 



school for sometime, and it is doubtful 
[whether] there are many negroes who have 
bought coal by the ton, it is felt that he has 
completely forgotten, or what is likely, 
never knew how many pounds in a ton. In 
items thirteen and fourteen, a disadvantage 
lies in the set-up of the objective answer 
required, which the negro is unaccustomed 
to, since it has not been introduced on any 
wide scale into their school training. In 
most cases of our southern negroes, the new 
type of testing has not been introduced into 
the schools in anywhere near the same pro- 
portion as it has into the white schools. 
Hence this type of question is entirely 
foreign to them. Also, it is felt that the 
average negro under the conditions which 
he is subjected to in his testing, is more at 
a disadvantage than the white, and is 
slower at thinking, or especially objective 
thinking than the white person. This in- 
volves an adjustment that fails in the in- 
sight upon the first experience without 
instructions, hence a different method 
should replace this type of response where 
the negro is concerned. 67 

While Fort Jackson's Post Inspector 
found no evidence of malingering, the 
commanding general believed that men 
"could easily be trained in how to fail 
to pass this test." The Director of Selec- 
tive Service for South Carolina was 
"quite upset" by the high rejection rates 
of Negroes, the commanding general re- 
ported. Letters and his own observa- 
tion had convinced him that "a large 
number of gentlewomen with children 
and without children are being left in 
communities and also in the communi- 
ties are large numbers of negro labor- 
ers." Many of the Negro rejects could 
be used, perhaps in "farm battalions." 
The state would otherwise be unfairly 
burdened with furnishing a "very high 



67 Ltr, Office of the Post Inspector, Hq Ft. Jack- 
son, to CG Ft. Jackson, 13 Jul 43, AG 201.6 (19 
Mar 43) (1) . 



UNITS: MEN AND TRAINING 



263 



percentage" of white men.* 8 The 
Fourth Service Command, approving 
the South Carolina recommendations, 
observed that the South Carolina situ- 
ation was duplicated in all states of the 
command.* 9 

The arguments concerning the valid- 
ity of the test for Negroes were ignored 
by the War Department, for the Negro 
rejection rate was almost exactly what 
the Army had hoped it would be. The 
Fourth Service Command was informed, 
however, that induction proportions in 
the South were being preserved. The 
1940 census showed 31 percent of the 
population of the command to be Negro 
while the induction rate of Negroes for 
the period 14 June- 14 August was 33 
percent, 70 The War Department was 
satisfied that the Negro induction rate 
was being preserved by the new system. 

Service Command Special 
Training Units 

Special training units "to relieve or- 
ganizations, unit training centers and 
replacement training centers from ex- 
pending regular training effort" on the 
expected increase in illiterates and low- 
literates were authorized for each service 
command. 71 The units were set up 
with the expectation that nearly twice as 
many Negroes as whites would receive 
this special training and that the heaviest 
loads w r ould be in the two southern com- 



86 3d Ind to Ltr cited |n. 67I Hq Ft. Jackson to 
CG Fourth Sv Comd, ig Jul 43, AG 201.6 (19 
Mar 43) (1). 

06 4th Ind to Ltr cited | n. 67] Hq Fourth Sv 
Comd to TAG, 23 Jul 43, AG 201.6 {19 Mar 43) 

O- , , 

70 5th Ind to Ltr cited |n, 67.I 

71 Par. 15, AR 615-28, 28 May 42. 



mands. Actually, there were always 
more white than Negro trainees in these 
units, with nearly 70 percent of the men 
at any one time being white. 72 Instead 
of the predicted 1 percent of the whites 
and 20 percent of the Negroes processed 
at reception centers, 9 percent of all 
whites and 49 percent of all Negroes 
inducted after June 1943 went to special 
training units. This number rep- 
resented about 11.5 percent of all men 
received through reception centers. 
Eighty percent of the trainees were illit- 
erate or non-English-speaking; the re- 
mainder were AGCT Grade V men. 
From June 1943 through May 1945, over 
260,000 men went through these units, 
of whom over 220,000— about 85 percent 
of the white and 86 percent of the Ne- 
groes—were forwarded to regular basic 
military training. 73 

Men assigned to special training units 
received three hours of academic and 
five hours of military training daily in- 
stead of alternating between training 
and labor as originally planned. With 
a maximum three months of training 
authorized, 79 percent of the men in 
training during the fiscal year 1945 com- 
pleted training in sixty days or less and 
44 percent required less than thirty days. 
Negroes completed special training in 
approximately the same average time as 
whites. With the exception of a few 
stations, the training given was of a high 
order. 

Although the special training units 
in their two years of operation, proved 
the value of accelerated, elementary lit- 
eracy training for men of limited educa- 



72 Army Service Forces Annual Report for the 
Fiscal Year 194^, p. 142. 
73 Ibid,, pp. 142-43, 



264 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



tional, mental, and language abilities, 
the units were not an unqualified success 
in correcting the situation which the plan 
they evolved from was designed to com- 
bat. They did make available to the 
Army larger numbers of white and Ne- 
gro men— the equivalent of more than a 
dozen divisions— who would otherwise 
have been rejected as illiterate and they 
did provide elementary training for 
these men. Though marginal soldiers 
no longer delayed the training of regular 
units, training centers complained that 
special training unit men, especially 
when placed in units where they had 
little need to practice their newly 
learned literacy skills, quickly deterio- 
rated. Many of the men, a few months 
after being certified as "functionally 
literate," were still signing payrolls with 
X's. This deterioration was not the re- 
sponsibility of the special training units; 
nevertheless, commanders of Negro 
T/O units, many of whom received 
practically all of their fillers from spe- 
cial training units, tended to complain 
that the units had not done their jobs 
well. There was some evidence that in 
certain of the units AGC tests were 
given repeatedly to men until they 
raised their scores to Grade IV. These 
men were then classified "literate" and 
released to regular training. This 
practice, contrary to the purpose of the 
units, was ordered stopped, with the 
warning that "the ability to read and 
write is not in itself a requirement for 
successful military training, however, 
that ability materially accelerates the 
rate of progress." 74 

71 Ltr, Hq TD RTC to CG RffcSC, 23 Aug 43, 
AG 353 (5—1—43) and 31 Incls; Ltr, TAG to CG's 
Sv Cornels, 1 1 Oct 43, AG 353 (23 Aug 43) OC-LT. 



There were suggestions that the prob- 
lem of slow learners and backward men 
could not be solved by the limited train- 
ing available in the special training 
units. The Neuropsychiatry Division of 
the Surgeon General's Office, seeking a 
method for the utilization of physically 
qualified men discharged from these 
units as inapt, recommended the organi- 
zation of slow learners into supporting 
and construction companies modeled on 
the American pioneer units of World 
War I and the British Pioneer Corps of 
World War II. The British had in- 
cluded in their units even those men who 
were so backward that they could not be 
trusted with lethal weapons. "With 
good officers and non-commissioned offi- 
cers these men are magnificent," British 
reports ran. 

In the last six months of 1943, 90,172 
educationally deficient men were in- 
ducted. Of these 66,258 went to regu- 
lar training after a stay in special train- 
ing units. The question of what to do 
with the other 24,000 physically fit men 
remained. The average slow learner 
could not keep pace with the quick 
learner. "Such competition forces him 
to find an escape consciously (AWOL) 
or unconsciously (psychoneurosis) , and 
the process holds back the possible speed 
of training for the normal," Lt. Col. Wil- 
liam C. Menninger, director of the 
Neuropsychiatry Division, explained. 
Many, with more time, could be ade- 
quately trained, though a few would be 
unable to finish basic training no matter 
how much time was given them. If 
men who scored less than 70 on the 
AGCT were placed in special units, op- 
erating as construction crews, mainte- 
nance units, stevedores, and on manual 



UNITS: MEN AND TRAINING 



265 



jobs, the amount of maladjustment in 
the Army would be reduced. 75 

ASF and G-i, in rejecting this pro- 
posal, took the position that the number 
of men discharged from special training 
units as unteachable or unadaptable to 
military training was too small to be 
administered effectively without special 
supervisory personnel. Since these 
men, if retained in special units, would 
have to be counted in the Troop Basis, 
other organizations would have to be 
removed in order to keep the Army 
within its manpower ceiling. The men 
discharged from special training units 
were not thought of as a loss of trained 
manpower, for the Army actually gained 
by replacing them with better qualified 
men from the nation's manpower pool. 76 

Neither the old literacy training ef- 
forts conducted by T/O units nor the 
newer reception center special training 
units did more than guarantee Negro 
units fewer totally illiterate and low 
Grade V men. By their very nature, 
they were unable to affect markedly the 
upper AGCT grades so thinly distrib- 
uted in Negro units. Of Negro men re- 
leased from special training units in the 
first six months for assignment to regular 
training, 99.2 percent were in Grades 
IV and V, but the number in Grade IV 
was considerably larger than that in 
Grade V. While these men were man- 



75 Memo, Neuropsychiatry Div (Lt Col William 
C. Menninger, Dir) , on Organization of "Armed" 
and "Unarmed" Pioneers, 20 Mar 44, Incl to Ltr, 
Col Menninger to Col Arthur G. Trudeau, Mil 
Tng Div ASF, SPTR 220.3. 

70 Memo Mil Tng Div ASF for TSG (Dir Neuro- 
psychiatry Div), 25 Mar 44, SPTR 220.3 ( 21 Mar 
44); Memo, MPD ASF for G-t, 31 Mar 44, SPGAC/ 
221 Gen (25 Mar 44) -122; Memo for Record 
attached, 19 Mar 44, SPTR 220.3 (21 Mar 44). 



ifestly better able to enter regular train- 
ing than the unsorted and untrained 
daily 10 percent of illiterates and ran- 
dom percentage of Grade V's previously 
received, they relieved rather than solved 
Negro units' difficult problem of absorb- 
ing too many men of poor backgrounds. 
While special training units could not 
solve completely the problems of units 
which continued to receive dispropor- 
tionately large numbers of low-scoring 
men, they did succeed in their main 
purpose: to relieve regular units of the 
burden of special training and to make 
available for regular training larger 
numbers of illiterate and low-literate 
men of higher potentialities. 

Instructional Problems 

Since lower scores generally meant 
slower learning, it was assumed that ex- 
tending training periods would go far 
to correct deficiencies in the progress of 
Negro units. In 1943, shortly after the 
establishment of the new special training 
units, G-3, on the recommendation of 
the Commanding General, Fourth Serv- 
ice Command, and of the Army Service 
Forces, authorized extended training 
programs for units which, because of a 
preponderance of low-grade personnel, 
"unusual mental attitude," or other rea- 
sons were not progressing satisfactorily. 
Extended military training programs, to 
be identified by the letter A (as in MTP 
10-1 A) and requiring up to six months' 
training, were to be prepared. Units 
were to be designated formally as sub- 
standard to prevent their being com- 
mitted to an overseas theater before re- 
ceiving sufficient training. Disciplinary 
training was to be intensified. Officers 



266 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



for these units were to be especially cho- 
sen. 77 

Extended military training programs 
were slow in preparation. After they 
were ready, training headquarters were 
sometimes reluctant to designate units 
substandard. A unit which was in de- 
mand was needed within a minimum 
time while a unit which was not in de- 
mand would have an automatic exten- 
sion of its training period. What train- 
ing commands and tenters wanted was 
better men from reception and replace- 
ment training centers rather than 
substandard program authorizations. 
When sixteen Transportation Corps am- 
phibian truck companies at Camp Gor- 
don Johnston, Florida, were declared 
substandard and placed on a 26-week 
substandard training program in Oc- 
tober 1943, the Transportation Corps 
protested that if better personnel had 
been sent to it, this training delay would 
not have occurred. As matters stood, at 
least five of these units would have to be 
committed in their current status of 
training when about halfway through 
the extended program. 78 

Extended training periods, without 
corresponding adjustments in instruc- 
tional techniques and leadership ap- 
proaches to the problems of Negro units, 
were in no case enough to guarantee an 
effectively trained unit. For though 
there had been general agreement as far 
back as the post-World War I planning 
period that it would take longer to train 
Negro units, there was no indication that 



"Memo, G-3 for CG's ASF, AGF, AAF, 9 Aug 
43; Memo for Record on G-3 Div M/S, 22 Aug 43; 
Memo, G-3 for CG's AAF, AGF, ASF, 24 Aug 43. 
All in WDGCT 291.31 (12 Jul 43) . 

™Ltr, Dir Mil Tng TC for Mob Div ASF, 28 
Oct 43, SPTR 220.3. 



units with extended periods were better 
fitted to carry out their missions than 
many others which had a normal training 
period or than many of those which were 
shipped overseas without completing 
training. 

The difficulties of carrying out effec- 
tive instruction in units with large num- 
bers of low-scoring men were, however, 
generally recognized. In those every- 
day, taken for granted practices in living, 
thinking, and working common to most 
Americans, the low-scoring Negroes of 
many units had basic deficiencies for 
which no corrective existed in Army in- 
structional doctrines. Few commanders 
of small units had either the time or the 
inclination to peer behind every short- 
coming of their troops to determine both 
the origin and remedy for these basic 
deficiencies. That directions framed in 
such terms as "discipline," "sentinel," 
"compensation," "maintain," "observa- 
tion," "barrage," "counter-clockwise," or 
even "exterior" might be meaningless, 79 
no matter how patiently or repeatedly 
given, occurred to few instructors 
charged with training Negro units. To 
reduce what was ordinarily accepted as 
understandable language to an even 
lower level was not easy to do without 
subconsciously berating one's listeners 
for that lack of "intelligence" which re- 
quired annoying additional effort on the 
part of the instructor. 

Proper instructional methods for slow 



™ These words are taken from a list of 500 words 
occurring with high frequency in The Soldier's 
Handbook, The Soldier's Reader, Army Life, gen- 
eral orders, and bulletin board notices, over half 
of which were not known to Grade V men, white 
and Negro, tested at a replacement training center. 
Less than 50 percent of the men tested understood 
the words listed here. See WD Pamphlet 20-6, 
Command of Negro Troops, 2g Feb 44. 



UNITS: MEN AND TRAINING 



267 



learners of poor experiential back- 
grounds were hardly stressed in a func- 
tional manner as a necessary adjunct to 
good leadership techniques as they af- 
fected the training of Negro troops. 80 
While American troops in general re- 
quired instruction in the reasons for 
mobilization and, later, in the reasons 
for America's entry into the war, 81 Negro 
troops often had to be instructed as well 
in the bare rudiments of existence in a 
machine age and, at that, in terms to 
which most available teaching personnel, 
Negro as well as white, were unaccus- 
tomed. Supervision of their training 
sometimes required more personnel than 
usual. The training of a maximum of 
170 officers and 3,600 enlisted men at 
Camp Gordon Johnston required a 
Headquarters and Headquarters Com- 
pany of fifty officers and 265 enlisted 
men. 82 

The range of subjects in which even a 
nontechnical unit was expected to gain 
proficiency was far wider than the lim- 
ited horizons of many low-scoring men 
had ever before included. The twenty- 
six week training program of a quarter- 
master railhead company, as an example, 
included the following in addition to the 



80 For later attempts to stress instructional meth- 
ods, see WD Pamphlet 20-6, Command of Negro 
Troops, 29 February 1944, and ASF Manual M-r,, 
Leadership and the Jvegro Soldier, October 1944, 
both of which are discussed below, Chapter XIII. 
These publications came too late in the war to 
affect the vital training periods of the bulk of the 
units. 

81 See Shirley A. Star, "The Orientation of Sol- 
diers Toward the War," in Samuel A. Stouffer ct 
al., The American Soldier: Adjustment to Army 
Life (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1949) ; 
Capt Ulysses C. Lee, Army Orientation, Hist of 
Mil Tng ASF, (1945) , MS OCMH. 

*" Mil Tng Div OCofTC, Transportation Corps 
History— Training of Units, Feb 45, p. 50, MS 
OCMH. 



basic military training subjects: storage 
and issue (warehousing, space utiliza- 
tion, prerequisites for issue) ; vehicle 
loading; daily telegrams and the compu- 
tation of supplies on the basis of in- 
formation furnished therein; railhead 
arrangement; use of road nets and sid- 
ings; receiving, sorting, and checking 
supplies; accounting for supplies; in- 
spection of subsistence stores; salvage 
operations; selection of sites for rail- 
heads, including plans for defense, cam- 
ouflage, and protection from air attacks; 
practical operation of railheads; map 
reading; security (including reconnais- 
sance, defense against guerrilla, chem- 
ical, air, and paratroop attacks, conceal- 
ment, dispersal, and camouflage) ; 
decontamination apparatus and its use; 
demolitions; safety measures; night op- 
erations. In addition, the unit was to 
conduct specialist training of chauffeurs 
and clerks in event these men could not 
be supplied by the specialist schools. 83 
Moreover, in a unit of this sort, as 
in many other small units which might 
have to operate independently with re- 
duced personnel, the training of all en- 
listed men was supposed to emphasize 
the importance of individual responsi- 
bility when direct supervision was not 
available. In this area alone, because of 
their immediate past, many Negroes re- 
quired a complete reorientation and re- 
training in their daily living habits. In- 
dividuals were to be trained to perform 
different tasks, such as supervision of 
loading details, guiding traffic, and all 
phases of railhead operation so that a 
single man might function effectively 
in many positions to allow for inter- 

83 TM 10-379, Handbook for the Quartermaster 
Railhead Company, AG 300.7 (4 Nov 43) , pp. 15- 

19- 



268 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



changeable team and labor pool use of 
men in varying situations. The range 
of subjects to be covered in twenty-six 
weeks was greater than many of the men 
assigned had encountered in all the pre- 
ceding years of their lives. Large num- 
bers of slow learners of poor back- 
grounds were an obvious handicap to 
the efficient training progress of such a 
unit. 

In addition to the general difficulties 
of training low-scoring men in a variety 
of tasks in a short time, there were a 
number of specific areas of difficulty 
which units and their men faced because 
of the preponderance of slow learners. 
In order to complete their training and 
become available for operational use, all 
units, including the less technical types, 
had to have available the specialists re- 
quired for unit functions. Specialists 
required by port companies, in addition 
to cargo-handling personnel, included, 
for example: mechanic foreman, mess 
sergeant, stevedore foreman, supply ser- 
geant, hatch foreman, company clerk, 
blacksmith, cargo checker, carpenter, 
clerk-typist, cook, cooper, crane operator, 
hatch tender, longshoreman, general me- 
chanic, tractor mechanic, rigger, tractor 
operator, truck driver, combination 
welder, and winch operator. Obtaining 
key specialists for service units was some- 
times baffling to training directors. 
One reported to a training conference: 

For example, the problem of training 
negroes to successfully fill key and technical 
positions of an Engineer General Service 
Regiment or an Engineer Construction 
Battalion is almost, if not entirely, unsur- 
mountable. Such key positions as Con- 
struction Supervisor (059) , Electrician, 
General (078) , Surveyor, General (227) , 
Designer, Electrical (078) , Designer, Road 
Construction (382) , Designer, Structural 



(074) , Foreman, Machine Shop (086) , 
Draftsman, Mechanical (071), Draftsman, 
Structural (074) and Foreman, Bridge 

(541) and many others of this nature re- 
quire considerable civilian background and 
experience. The key and technical posi- 
tions for Engineer units mentioned above 
should be filled with men who have had a 
civilian background commensurate with the 
job to be done so that within a reasonably 
short course of military instruction, induct- 
ees could fill the required positions. Wide 
search will fail to reveal negroes whose 
background reflects experience in such re- 
quired key positions. . . . Since personnel 
must be trained for the above key positions 
in 20 weeks, it can be readily seen that 
upon activation, two strikes are already 
called on a technical unit allotted negro 
personnel. The specialists required may 
be named, may be rated, and may draw the 
pay of specialists, but the real specialist is 
not there. Who does the technical work of 
these so-called specialists? It is probable 
that the white officer does, if it is accom- 
plished, thus being forced to neglect his 
own work. 84 

Officers themselves were not always able 
to give much aid. At the Third Engi- 
neer Aviation Unit Training Center, 
MacDill Field, Florida, where nearly all 
Negro aviation engineer units were 
trained in the last half of the war, in- 
spectors found training officers who were 
not able to identify tools and who could 
not identify component parts of engineer 
sets and chests. 85 



S1 Address, Col William H. Craig, Fourth Sv 
Corad, Problems of a Service Command Training 
Division, Notes, ASF Fifth Training Conf, 24 Oct 
44, ASFTC Camp Barkeley, Tex., p. 163. Numbers 
in parentheses are Military Occupational Specialty 
(MOS) numbers. See also, Unit Training in the 
Corps of Engineers, 1 July 1939-30 June 1944, pp. 
17-18, MS OCMH. 

^Ltr, Hq EAUTC, Office Dir and Maint, Mac- 
Dill Field, to Dir of Supply and Maintenance, 
316th AAFBU (EAUTC), MacDill, Fla., 16 Jan 45, 
copy in EAUTC MacDill Fid Hist Rpt, Install- 
ment VIII, AAF 2158-4. 



UNITS: MEN AND TRAINING 



269 



Schools were set up to transform the 
thousands o£ young men with little civil- 
ian experience into the specialists 
required, as well as into the pilots, 
gunners, and cannoneers for which 
there were no civilian counterparts. 8 * 
But standards for entrance to many 
specialist schools were higher than the 
available enlisted men of most Negro 
units could meet. 87 

Certain units requested that require- 
ments for specialists' courses be lowered. 
They argued that their lower-rated men 
could do the required classroom work 
and that, in any event, they were the 
only ones who could be spared. For 
Engineer courses, units suggested broad- 
ening the base to include men from the 
upper fifth of the command. This re- 
quest was approved. 88 Army Air 
Forces, pointing out the immediate need 
for signal construction companies, urged 
the lowering of minimum scores and 
the substitution of equivalent experi- 



80 For comprehensive accounts of methods of 
training used by the armed services, see series 
Publications of the Commission on Implications 
of Armed Seniices Educational Programs, American 
Council on Education (Washington, 1947) (12 
monographs) . 

87 Requirements for most courses were not ex- 
cessively high, but in a random choice among 
units few Negroes with both the necessary scores 
and the required background could be found to 
meet requirements such as the following: Water 
Purification: proficiency in elementary arithmetic 
and use of formulas, aptitude for or experience 
in electrical and mechanical work and elementary 
chemistry; Mechanical Equipment: elementary 
arithmetic and use of formulas with aptitude for 
or experience in electrical and mechanical work; 
Drafting: proficiency in arithmetic with an apti- 
tude for drafting, some knowledge of algebra, 
plane geometry, and trigonometry desirable. Ltr, 
OCE to TAG, 3 Jul 41, AG 220.63 Engr Sch (7- 
3-4i) (')• 

88 Ltr, 1st Hq and Hq Detachment Special Trps, 
Armd Force, Ft. Knox, Ky., to CG Armd Force, 
15 J an 43. AGF 352/127 (Engr Sch) . 



ence for specialist training in Signal 
Corps schools. In this case the approval 
was conditioned by the attachment of a 
white signal construction unit to help 
intensify training in the Negro units. 89 

Other units gave retests of the AGCT 
in an attempt to qualify men for special- 
ist and officer candidate schools. Some 
of these were genuine retests, in which 
adequate explanations of the tests and 
adequate time, both often lacking in 
reception centers, resulted in a marked 
improvement in scores. How much of 
this improvement may be traced to 
newly acquired knowledge and experi- 
ence cannot be gauged. At other times, 
men were retested several times, until 
their scores were raised. This latter 
procedure, frowned upon by the Classi- 
fication and Replacement Branch, had 
little validity in a determination of the 
actual scores of the men concerned. 
That units took the time to administer 
these retests indicates how serious the 
shortage of AGCT qualified men was. 90 

Many units w r ere genuinely hard put 
to fill quotas allotted them for officer as 
well as specialist training. Since the 
requirement of a score of 110 (Grade 
II) or better for appointment to of- 
ficer candidate schools left a relatively 
small number of Negro eligibles, the 
problem of filling allotted quotas be- 
came a desperate one in some units. 



"Ltr, Hq AAF to CSigO, 1 Mar 43, AAF 353 
Cld Tng. 

"° Materials on the numbers of retests given in 
specific units and their results arc lacking, for ob- 
vious reasons. That retests were given, sometimes 
legitimately and sometimes with such frequency as 
to negate the purpose of the AGCT, cannot be 
doubted. See Ltr, Hq Btry 93d Div Arty to CG 
93d Div, 15 Aug 42, Misc Corresp Hq 93d Inf Div 

Arty; Ltr, T/5 L. A. P to Btry CO, 7 Aug 42. 

Both in same file. 



270 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



In 1942, inspecting officers, one of 
whose responsibilities was to determine 
whether or not unit commanders were 
exploiting fully the opportunity to send 
Negro candidates to OCS, found that in 
many units there were practically no 
opportunities to exploit. While in 
the average white unit 30 percent or 
more of the men fell within the two top 
grades eligible for appointment, in the 
average Negro unit less than 5 percent of 
the men were eligible on the basis of 
scores without regard to other qualify- 
ing criteria. 91 Reductions for other dis- 
qualifying reasons left many Negro units 
without possible candidates. School 
retests of candidates left more than the 
suspicion that many Negro units were 
not too careful in certifying AGCT 
scores for men sent to OCS. Candi- 
dates, once they were sent to the schools, 
were usually allowed to remain. Some 
of the borderline cases successfully com- 
pleted their courses, but many others 
were rapid failures. The predomi- 
nance of low-scoring men hampered 
even high-scoring men in their attempts 
to take full advantage of Army training 
opportunities, for sending men to offi- 
cer candidate schools often removed 
most of the enlisted leadership material 
from the unit. 

For admission to the Army Special- 
ized Training Program (ASTP) at ci- 
vilian colleges, Negro enlisted men were 
at an even greater disadvantage, for the 
requirement here was a score of 115 or 
better. Since only about 2.5 percent of 
all Negroes in the Army had scores of 1 15 
or better, Negroes eligible for ASTP con- 
stituted less than one-fourth of 1 per- 



61 Memo, Hq Third Army for Col Newcomer, 4 
Jun 42, CofE 352 {Engr OCS) pt. 3. 



cent of all men in the Army. In De- 
cember 1943, at the program's peak, 
105,265 students were enrolled. Of 
these, only ^8g were Negroes. They 
represented three-fourths of 1 percent 
of the total. 92 

Barriers to Advanced Training 

Despite the difficulty of securing 
enough men with the required qualifi- 
cations for specialist and advanced train- 
ing, there existed additional barriers to 
the selection of well-qualified men for 
training. The percentage of Negro el- 
igibles was so small that their distribu- 
tion to varying units of the arms and 
services made it difficult to locate men 
who might have made excellent can- 
didates for specific types of advanced 
training. Judge Hastie suspected that 
there were many Negro men "lost" 
within the Army in units which had no 
need of their qualifications while other 
units suffered shortages in the same field. 
Sufficient evidence, in the form of re- 
quests for assignment and occasional in- 
spectors' comments, existed to support 
this view. G-3, realizing that numbers 
of Negro men were in units such as avia- 
tion squadrons and medical sanitary com- 
panies which had no true specialists' 
requirements, requested a sampling sur- 
vey of these units to determine if enough 
men of high caliber were available there 
to fill some of the requirements of more 
critically needed units. The results of 
the survey were discouraging; there was 



ez Of these students, 569 were in the 5 units lo- 
cated at Negro schools; 220 were in 36 units located 
at mixed schools in the north and west. Memo, 
Chief Standards Sec ASTP for Chief Curricula and 
Standards Br ASTP, 29 Jan 45, SPTR 291.2 (29 
Jan 45) . 



UNITS: MEN AND TRAINING 



271 



no excess of highly qualified men re- 
ported from these units. 9:1 

Later, in a blanket attempt to salvage 
men of higher capabilities from units 
which required proportionately fewer 
men of this type, the War Department 
directed that certain types of units be 
cleared of men of greater potentialities. 
"Specifically," the directive read, "ex- 
cess of men with high intelligence in 
units such as aviation squadrons, sani- 
tary companies, and service units of the 
Quartermaster Corps and Engineer 
labor units will be reassigned to units 
where their skills and intelligence can 
be utilized more effectively." 94 But the 
one word, "excess," defeated the pur- 
pose of this directive. The common 
shortage of men qualified as noncom- 
missioned officers forced many of these 
units to report that they had no "ex- 
cess" among high-scoring men. 

There were other units in which little 
attempt was made to screen out possible 
applicants for advanced training. Of- 
ten, officers of these units and the en- 
listed men themselves, having received 
no specific instructions in the matter, 
were equally uncertain of what applica- 
tions, if any, could be made with a 
chance of acceptance by the men of a 
Negro unit. Even units and commands 
with definite training requirements 
were uncertain of either the procedure 
or the possibility of sending Negro sol- 
diers to certain schools. Inquiries on 



M Memo, Actg Civ Aide to SW for G-3, 19 Mar 
43, and Memo, G-3 for G-i, 26 Mar 43, WDGCT 
291.21 (3-19-43); Memo, TAG ASF for G-i, 10 
May 43, AG 201.fi (5-10-43) DC-A; Memo, G-i 
for G-3, 12 May 43, WDGAP 322.99; Info Action 
Sheet, C&R Br AGO to G-i, 14 May 43, AG 201.6 
(5-14-43) OC-A. 

"•Ltr, TAG to CG's, etc., 17 Tun 43, AG 353 
(10 Jun 43) B-D-A, 



specific training policies as they affected 
Negroes were frequent. Will there be 
a separate school for tire maintenance? 
the Civilian Aide's office asked. Can 
Negro enlisted men be trained as guard 
patrolmen at Miami Beach? First Air 
Force wanted to know. May they be 
sent to the corps area horseshoeing 
school? Fourth Corps Area was asked. 
Are Negroes eligible for the General 
Mechanics Course at Motor Transport 
Schools? the Replacement and School 
Command and the Antiaircraft Com- 
mand inquired. Can Negroes be given 
observation aviation training? Scott 
Field asked. Where can we send Negro 
medical enlisted men for training? 
Second Army and the Flying Train- 
ing Command inquired. 95 Occasion- 
ally an officer, observing that no ap- 
plications for specialists' or advanced 
training had ever come from the enlisted 
men of the unit, made specific inquiries. 
Up to July 1943, the 61st Aviation 
Squadron, with goo men, had not proc- 
essed a single application for aviation 
cadet training. "And being uncertain 
as to the course we should pursue," 
Moore Field's Aviation Cadet Exam- 
ining Board wrote, "we have not made 
a direct appeal to them as part of our 
current recruiting campaign." From 
their records, however, the board had 

90 Memo, Truman Gibson, Asst to Civ Aide to SW, 
for Lt Col Walter R. Smith, OD CofS, 27 Jun 41, 
AG 353.9 (6-27-41) <i); Ltr, Hq AFEDC and First 
AF to CG AAF, 8 Jun 43, and 1st Ind, Hq AAF, 
15 Jun 43, AAF 353 Cld Trps; Msg, Hq Fourth 
Corps Area to Comdr Inf Sell, Ft. Benning, Ga., 9 
Apr 42, Fourth Corps Area CA 220.632— Inf Sch 
92-E-2; Msg, CG R&SC to CG AGF, 18 Jul 42, AGF 
352/37 (MTS); Ltr, Hq AAC to CG AGF, 23 Sep 
42, AGF 352/42 (Ord Sch); Ltr, Asst Adj Scott Fid, 
111. to CG 2d Dist, AAFTTC, St. Louis, Mo., AAF 
353 Cld Trps; Rad, Second Army to Hq AGF, 17 
Aug 42, Rad, Hq AGF to Second Army, 17 Aug 42, 
AGF 322.999/168. 



272 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



concluded that several of the squadron's 
men seemed well qualified "and would 
probably welcome the opportunity to 
file applications if they were specifically 
invited to do so." 96 

Units might well have pondered the 
wisdom of advising their men of all 
training openings announced by the 
Army, for at times training agencies re- 
ported that they had no facilities for 
training Negroes and at other times Ne- 
gro trainees reporting to training sta- 
tions were summarily transferred 
elsewhere. Certain training facilities 
were considered "inadequate" for Ne- 
groes and assigning agencies were 
directed to use other facilities. School 
policies, moreover, shifted from time to 
time. The Air Forces, desiring the Sig- 
nal Corps to train Negro enlisted men for 
the 1000th Signal Company, g6th Serv- 
ice Group, learned that Signal Corps 
was training no Negroes in the required 
specialties. The Air Forces proceeded 
to make a search to obtain men from 
civilian life who already had the re- 
quired training and experience. 97 
Some six weeks later, it learned that 
Signal Corps was now training Negro 
soldiers in these specialties. 98 Negro 
enlisted men arriving at the Parachute 
School in 1942 were immediately trans- 
ferred on the grounds that the school 
had no facilities for training them and 
the Army had no units to which they 
could be assigned." Ordnance trainees 

K Ltr, Avn Cadet Examining Bd, Moore Fid, 
Tex., to Hq AAF, 6 Jul 43, and 1st Ind, 14 Jul 
43, Hq AAF to Avn Cadet Examining Bd, Moore 
Fid, AAF 353 Cld Tng. 

u7 R8cRS, AAF Dir of Communications to AAF 
Dir of Base Svs, 6 Feb 43, AAF 353 Cld Tng. 

"R&RS, AAF MPD to AAF Dir of Communica- 
tions, gg Mar 43, AAF 353 Cld Tng. 

W M/R, AGF G-i Enl Div, 16 Dec 42, AGF 
220.3/1 15s. 



were ordered to Aberdeen or other 
Army installations rather than to affili- 
ated schools because trainees in civilian 
plant and other private schools were 
billeted in YMCA's and hotels where 
only "unsuitable" facilities were avail- 
able for Negroes. This restriction ap- 
plied to all affiliated ordnance schools 
except Hampton Institute. 100 The ex- 
istence of special separate schools like 
the Hampton automotive training 
school, established by the Quartermaster 
Corps in April 1941 as a stopgap pro- 
gram for training the increasing Negro 
personnel of the Army, and the course 
for Negro physical therapists at Fort 
Huachuca established by the Medical 
Department for civilians and, later, for 
Wacs, in 1943, further confused the 
issue of the eligibility of Negroes for any 
and all Army schools. 

The location of training facilities in 
schools and colleges operating under 
state segregation laws, most of whose 
contracts with the Army contained the 
usual federal nondiscriminatory clauses, 
posed a further problem at times. Gen- 
erally, where these schools objected to 
Negro students and where duplicate 
facilities existed elsewhere, Negro train- 
ees were sent to schools in other areas, 
but in some instances, as at the School 
for Personnel Services at Washington 
and Lee University, Negro trainees were 
accepted in regular courses. No gen- 
eral policy on this matter was formu- 
lated. 

While these additional barriers to full 
participation in the Army's facilities for 
training did exist, the main deterrent to 
the full and adequate training of Negro 

1W Lir, Hq AGF to CG's Armies, Corps, Com- 
mands, DTC, Chief Armd Force, 12 Oct 42, AGF 
328.999/4, 



UNITS: MEN AND TRAINING 



273 



specialists continued to lie in the inabil- 
ity of a large enough number of men to 
meet the formal requirements for ad- 
vanced training. Most Army schools 
were open to Negroes and most Negro 
units received the regularly allotted 
quotas for school training along with all 
other units of their types. The units' 
chief problem was to find men who 
were suitable candidates for training in 
courses which varied from horseshoeing 
at Fort Riley to airplane mechanics at 
Lincoln Air Base, from bakers and cooks 
at stations like Fort Benning to clerks at 
schools like Washington and Jefferson 
College. To add to the difficulty, many 
units lacked sufficient men qualified by 
temperament or certified ability to fill 
all existing needs for the noncommis- 
sioned officers so essential to unit train- 
ing and to unit operations. The result 
was that most units blamed their lack of 
training progress on a variety of factors, 
most of which they traced back to the 
lack of knowledge and preparation of 
their enlisted men as exemplified, vis- 
ibly, in the AGCT scores inscribed on 
each man's Form 20 card. AGCT 
scores, illiteracy, and "low intelligence" 
became the major villains besetting 
Negro units. Special training units 
were a help, and locally operated "lead- 
ership" and specialist schools filled many 
a gap in unit training opportunities, but 
most units felt that if they could just re- 
ceive fillers with more nearly normal 
AGCT scores most of their problems 
would be solved. 

Often the existence of low AGCT 
scores in a Negro unit became a bul- 
wark against adverse criticisms of 
training progress and discipline. Unit 
officers learned very early that the maldis- 



tribution of AGCT scores in Negro units 
as measured against white unit norms 
was generally an acceptable explanation 
for nearly all difficulties which a Negro 
unit might be undergoing. If noncom- 
missioned officers were poor, it was 
because too few men were in the leader- 
ship producing Grades, I, II, and III. 
If training progress was slow, it was be- 
cause too many men were in the slow 
learning Grades, IV and V. If venereal 
disease rates were high, if morale was 
low, if discipline was poor, if AWOL 
rates were high, if mess halls and bar- 
racks failed to pass sanitary inspections, 
if vehicles and equipment were improp- 
erly maintained, low AGCT scores— low r 
"intelligence"— were to blame. In 
many units the AGCT score became the 
refrain for a continuous jeremiad used 
as a fraternal greeting for inspectors. 
"When the Inspector General inspects 
a Negro unit," one officer experienced in 
the training of Negro soldiers explained, 
"the Unit Commander frequently calls 
his attention to the big percentage of 
men below Class II. The inspector 
thinks, 'Good Heavens, a unit like that 
can't be much good' and he starts look- 
ing for trouble. Sometimes he will say 
in his report, 'Unit will not be ready for 
movement overseas until a higher per- 
centage of men in Class I, II, and III is 
assigned.' . . . Now the fact is that 
some very serviceable units can be made 
of personnel of this type. It would be a 
little silly to assume that all German 
soldiers are of Class III or better in spite 
of their claims of superiority. The 
Russians might lose some of their confi- 
dence if they knew the dreadful truth 
about their mental gradations. . . . 
Many of our officers are giving the re- 



274 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



suits of these tests more weight than 
was ever intended." 101 

Something of what could be done 
when the situation demanded it and 
when full use of resources was made was 
illustrated by training centers such as 
the 3d Engineer Aviation Unit Training 
Center at MacDill Field, Florida, where 
eighty-eight enlisted instructors were 
used in the last half of the war. Most 
of these men were young, with a median 
age of 24. Most were from the South 
by birth and most had had limited civil- 
ian experience before induction into the 
Army. Their education ranged from 
the second year of elementary school 
through completion of college; exactly 
half had had four years of high school 
or some college training. All had been 
in the Army from twelve to eighteen 
months. Exactly half were in the first 
three grades, half were in IV and V. 
Nearly half had been manual laborers, 
with the remainder spread through a 
varied list of skilled and semiskilled 
civilian occupations, few of which had 
direct connection with the engineering 
trades. Of these soldiers and their 
backgrounds the training center re- 
ported: 

101 Unit Training, Address by Col Lawrence B. 
Wyant, GSC Mil Tng Div ASF, to Fourth ASF Tng 
Conf, Ft. Monmouth, N.J., 15-17 Mar 44, Files 
Fourth Conf, pp. 4-5. 



The list of specific occupations will sug- 
gest the civilian experience on which Army 
specialist training could be grounded. 
Perhaps one-third of the list, including the 
bartender and the asylum attendant, are 
difficult to connect with the task of build- 
ing runways for advancing air power. 
Even so, native human capacities under the 
spur of need and the stress of opportunity 
often do respond in unsuspected ways. 1(ia 

While the AGCT scores and the poor 
backgrounds of Negro enlisted men 
which they measured were certainly 
central to the slow progress of many 
units, they alone could not be held re- 
sponsible for all training difficulties 
which Negro soldiers and their units 
faced. While low scores were charac- 
teristic of most Negro units, not all units 
faced the same varieties of training prob- 
lems, nor were all units equally affected 
by comparably low scores. Those unit 
commanders who discounted the para- 
mount value of scores in judging the po- 
tentialities of units found there were 
other factors of equal importance in- 
volved in the successful training of Ne- 
gro units. With an examination of these 
factors in the life and training of Negro 
unitSj the role of AGCT scores loses 
lustre as the touchstone for understand- 
ing the major problems of Negro units 
and their training. 

llK EAUTC Hist Rpt, Ex No. 43, Fldr 1 (18 Mar 
43-1 May 44) . pp. 126-87, Hist Div Archives. 



CHAPTER X 

Physical Fitness 



The physical fitness of the Negro pop- 
ulation of military age was less decisive 
than Army General Classification Test 
scores in its effect upon the employment 
of Negro troops, but it was nevertheless 
a matter of major importance to the 
Army. As with mental and educational 
standards, changing physical standards 
for induction and employment often 
caused administrative and training com- 
plications in the absorption and assign- 
ment of Negro men. Physical fitness 
problems affecting Negro inductions, 
employment, and discharges were closely 
connected with the same factors which 
made educational deficiencies so impor- 
tant to Negro units. 

Health and Inductions 

Studies of the civilian health of Ne- 
groes conducted before the war had 
shown that Negro life expectancy was 
shorter than that of white Americans. 
Death rates were higher among Negroes 
than among whites. Illness rates were 
also higher. 1 Poor health facilities in 
many of the areas from which Negroes 



1 For comprehensive discussions of the findings 
of health studies, sec Samuel J. Holmes, The Ne- 
gro's Struggle for Survival: A Stxidy in Human 
Ecology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 
1937); Julian H. Lewis, The Biology of the Negro 
(Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1942) ; 
and E. Franklin Frazier The Negro in the United 
Slates (New York: Macmillan, 1949) , pp. 567-92. 



came, poor economic circumstances 
which prevented many families from 
taking advantage of the medical and 
dental facilities that did exist, poor 
housing and inadequate diets which 
contributed to physical deficiencies, and 
cultural standards which failed to pro- 
duce precautions and sanctions against 
social diseases were factors contributing 
both to higher death and illness rates 
for civilians and to those physical dis- 
abilities which resulted in high rejection 
rates for Negro registrants for military 
service. 

All men inducted into the Army dur- 
ing the first half of the war were very 
largely free of serious physical defects. 
Sixty percent of the Negroes and 57 per- 
cent of the whites available for general 
service between November 1940 and De- 
cember 1943 had no discoverable de- 
fects at all. Defects in the remainder 
were minor. Among limited service 
personnel, available for induction after 
June 1942, the major defects among 
white men were those of the eyes and 
teeth, while among Negroes they were 
the venereal diseases. 

Negro men inducted for limited serv- 
ice (Selective Service Class I-B) consti- 
tuted no large problem for the Army, 
for relatively few Negroes were accepted 
for limited service as such. The origi- 
nal experimental call in June 1942, de- 
signed to determine how well physically 



276 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



substandard men could be absorbed by 
the Army for use on nonstrenuous duty, 
contained 800 whites and 200 Negroes. 
The next call, in August 1942, required 
2,500 whites only. Thereafter, Class 
I-B was discontinued, physical standards 
were lowered, and limited service men 
were progressively reclassified I-A 
(immediately available) if they had no 
major disqualifying defects. At first 10 
percent and, later, 5 percent of the men 
of each race accepted each day at each 
induction station could be limited serv- 
ice men. These color percentage 
quotas were dependent upon regular 
induction calls and acceptances by race. 
They therefore fluctuated considerably. 
At various times white limited service 
men up to 20 percent of the men ac- 
cepted and no Negroes were called, with 
the result that, in 1943, 99,846 white as 
compared with 4,184 Negro limited serv- 
ice men and, in 1944, 34,352 white as 
compared with 1,747 Negro limited 
service men were inducted. After May 
ig44, acceptance of limited service men 
ceased. 2 

Excepting the venereal diseases, all 
principal disorders among Negroes ex- 
amined by local boards and induction 
stations occurred proportionately about 
the same number of times as among 
whites, with somewhat low T er percent- 
ages of defects of eyes, ears, teeth, lungs, 
and the musculoskeletal system among 
Negroes accepted and rejected than 
among whites. Figures on rejections 
could not always be compared with ac- 
curacy, nor could they be taken as a 
complete cross-sectional picture of the 

2 Mil Pers Div ASF, The Procurement of Military 
Personnel, II, 326-29, MS OCMH; Quotas, Calls, 
and Inductions (Selective Service System Special 
Monograph 12, Washington, 1947), I, 97-99. 



nation's health. The data on defects 
were based on 10 to 20 percent samples 
of available reports. They did not in- 
clude examinations of volunteers, Regu- 
lar Army men, National Guardsmen, and 
others entering the Army outside of the 
Selective Service System. Nor did they 
report the health of deferred men. 
Physical standards and reporting sys- 
tems varied, at times, from board to 
board and station to station. Complete 
listings of all disqualifying defects were 
not always reported by examining sta- 
tions. Selective Service found that the 
tendency to record or summarize only 
the most serious defects of Negro regis- 
trants was especially marked. There- 
fore, the immediately disqualifying 
defects might be listed while less im- 
portant disorders were ignored. While 
they might not give a complete picture 
of the state of selectees' health, first ex- 
amination reports did give a reliable 
accounting of the availability of man- 
power for immediate service. Since 
nearly all Negroes entered the Army 
through the Selective Service System, 
the Negro figures when taken alone had a 
higher validity as a gauge of Negroes' 
availability; but since proportionately 
fewer whites entered through Selective 
Service, comparative figures were a less 
valid index to comparative racial 
health. 3 

The Venereal Disease Problem 

The first two million serologic reports 
of selectees re-emphasized the impor- 
tance of the venereal diseases as deter- 

3 Cf . Physical Examination of Selective Service 
Registrants (Selective Service System Special Mono- 
graph 15, Washington, 1947), I, 149-80, and 
Tables in III, 46, 50. 



PHYSICAL FITNESS 



277 



rents to the full use of American man- 
power. Unless some method could be 
found to reclaim and use venereals, 
many of whom were otherwise free of 
physical defects, a great body of poten- 
tially valuable manpower would be lost 
to the military services. The venereal 
diseases became, therefore, a major tar- 
get for medical attack in preparation 
for and in prosecution of the war. The 
venereal diseases, though they were by 
no means the only physical factor in- 
volved, became the principal physical 
disability markedly limiting the mili- 
tary employment of Negro as compared 
with white manpower. Combined with 
educational deficiencies, they sharply 
reduced the proportions of Negro regis- 
trants initially available for general 
service. Primarily because of these two 
disproportionately frequent defects, over 
half of the Negro registrants examined, 
as compared with less than two fifths of 
the w r hite registrants, were not eligible 
for general service on their first exam- 
inations. 4 

The problem posed for the Army by 
the high rates of venereal disease among 
Negroes was threefold. Venereal dis- 
eases complicated and slowed up, 
through deferments and rejections, the 
selection and induction of Negro regis- 
trants during the first years of the war. 
They caused a disproportionate loss of 
administrative, training, and duty time 
once Negroes were inducted. They 
placed a further strain on morale in the 
training and supervision of Negro units. 
The presence of venereal diseases bul- 
warked personal prejudices in the train- 
ing and use of Negro troops. No 



' Ibid., I, 160. 



amount of instruction in the nature of 
transmission of these diseases could over- 
come completely the aversion of most 
noninfected men to venereals. Nor 
did the circulation and posting of 
reports detailing the high rates of infec- 
tion occurring in many Negro units aid 
in dispelling the notion, often alluded 
to in officers' letters requesting trans- 
fers, that Negro troops were personally 
careless and dirty. 

At the beginning of mobilization, 
registrants with venereal diseases were 
rejected completely, although some cases 
of men with gonorrhea, the venereal 
disease most common and at the same 
time most difficult to detect by routine 
examination methods, did get into the 
Army. 5 After March 1942, registrants 
with adequately treated syphilis could 
be inducted, but the criteria of adequate 
treatment were such that few registrants 
with a history of syphilis could meet 
them. Registrants with uncomplicated 
gonorrhea became available for limited 
service at the same time. In October 
1942, men with uncomplicated gonor- 
rhea up to 2 percent of each race at each 
induction station (later raised to 4 per- 
cent) could be inducted for general 
service. In December 1942, regulations 
were again relaxed, with the number of 
venereals accepted geared to the num- 
ber of beds and rapid treatment facil- 
ities actually available in reception 
centers. It was March 1943 before 
enough treatment facilities became 
available to allow the Army to accept 
very many venereals and to treat them 



5 Maj. Ernest B. Howard, MC, "Gonorrhea from 
ibe Standpoint o£ the Army," American Journal 
of Syphilis, Gonorrhea, and Venereal Diseases, 
CXXVII (1943), 607-15. 



278 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



before their assignment to regular 
training. 6 

The higher incidence of syphilis 
among Negroes was such that maintain- 
ing equal ratios of venereal inductions 
by race in the first months of 1943 did 
not allow a sufficiently rapid absorption 
of previously rejected Negro men. In 
August 1943, therefore, induction sta- 
tions were authorized to accept Negroes 
with syphilis up to one third of the total 
Negro call. Nevertheless, on 1 April 
1945, when all inductions were slowing 
down, it was estimated that 265,100 or 
5.7 percent of all the 4,629,000 regis- 
trants aged 18-37 then in the rejected 
classes were syphilitics. An additional 
18,400 or 0.4 percent were so classified 
for other venereal diseases. Of these, 
over half in each category were Negroes. 1 

Those venereals who were inducted 
under the relaxed Army standards of 
1943 were treated and cured of their 
diseases before entering regular training 
through the use of new rapid treatment 
methods employing sulfa drugs and, 
later, penicillin. Within Army units, 
therefore, the problem of venereal dis- 
ease was very largely one of the preven- 
tion and control of new infections. 
While chaplains were free and in most 
commands were urged to stress moral 
principles and control through conti- 



a Major regulations governing the induction of 
venereals were contained in MR 1-9, 31 Aug 40; 
MR 1-9, 15 Mar 42; State Dir Adv No. 77, 26 Sep 
42; MR 1-9, 15 Oct 42; State Dir Adv 126, 17 Dec 
42; Ltr, AG 372.02 PR-I, 25 May 43; Local Bd 
Memo 178, amended 6 Jan 44; MR 1-9, 19 Apr 44. 

7 Data from National Headquarters Selective 
Service System Report, Venereal Disease in Selec- 
tive Service Registrants. On the incidence of 
syphilis in the civilian population, see Thomas 
Parran, "The Role of the United States Public 
Health Service in Venereal Disease Control," Fed- 
eral Probation, VII (April-June 1943) , 5. 



nence, the Army approached its preven- 
tion and control program from a practi- 
cal medical point of view closely related 
to manpower economics. 

Although Army control methods suc- 
ceeded in keeping Negro military rates 
below those of the Negro civilian popula- 
tion, Negro units in a given area or com- 
mand continued to account for 
disproportionate numbers and percent- 
ages of venereal infections. Until the 
treatment of uncomplicated cases on 
duty status became possible, Negro sol- 
diers lost a large number of days from 
duty. During the first four months of 
1942, when Negroes constituted 7 per- 
cent of the strength of the Southeast Air 
Force Training Center, they accounted 
for 42 percent of the center's cases. In 
the First Air Force for October and No- 
vember 1942, when Negroes amounted to 
1 1 percent of the command, they repre- 
sented 40 percent of the cases. In 
September 1942 the 93d Infantry Divi- 
sion, with 107 cases (a rate of gg per 
1000 per annum) , lost 2,226 man days 
from duty, two and a half times as many 
days as any other division then under 
Ground Forces control. 8 In light of the 
training difficulties of Negro units, exces- 
sive losses of duty time from venereal 
diseases augured no good if allowed to 
proceed unchecked. 

The Antivenereal Disease 
Campaign 

The United States Public Health Serv- 
ice's campaign against venereal diseases, 
underway during the last half of the 

8 Rpt, Capt Robert Dyar, MC, to the Air Sur- 
geon, 6 Jun 42, AAF 726.1; 2d Ind, Hq AAF EDC 
and FAF to CG EDC and First Army, 31 Dec 42, 
on Ltr, Hq AAF to CG FAF, 11 Dec 42, AAF 726.1; 
AGF Statistical Hull 30, 25 Nov 42. 



PHYSICAL FITNESS 



279 



thirties, had barely begun to affect the 
country's Negro population by 1940. 
Despite concerted efforts at education in 
the danger, prevention, and cure of vene- 
real diseases, many Negro communities, 
lacking good health and medical atten- 
tion generally, had not come to a realiza- 
tion of either the importance of or the 
possible treatments of venereal dis- 
eases. General sanitary facilities were 
often such that minimum venereal dis- 
ease control at best was all that was 
possible. The names of the common 
venereal diseases themselves were often 
unknown. Unless the problem was 
discussed with soldiers in the more 
familiar slang terms, lectures on the dan- 
gers of syphilis and gonorrhea often 
made little impression. The sufferer 
from "bad blood" did not always con- 
nect his disorder with that which the 
lecturer was discussing. Often lec- 
turers, with their charts and technical 
terms, failed to make their main points 
clearly, especially to slow learners. One 
officer found a soldier who admitted 
that he had had trouble using the chem- 
ical prophylaxis kit provided because he 
found it very difficult to swallow its 
white tube. 9 Others confirmed the ex- 
istence of cultural barriers to the full 
efficacy of the control program offered 
by the Army. Superstitions about the 
nature of venereal diseases were wide- 
spread. Among both white and Negro 
troops they acted as deterrents to educa- 
tional programs, but Negro troops were 
the more likely to have learned that it is 
impossible to contract venereal diseases 
during the full of the moon or that 
drinking lemon juice was a sure cure for 

"Capt Marcellus H. Gofl, MC, 366th Inf, VD 
Among Colored Trps, Incl to Ltr, Hq First Sv 
Comd to CG ASF, 20 Aug 43, SPOCS 726.1. 



gonorrhea. 10 Resistance to prophylaxis 
was high, furthermore, because of wide- 
spread beliefs that prophylactic meas- 
ures and devices reduced virility. Re- 
luctance to visit prophylactic stations 
was increased in many situations — where 
stations were located in or near police 
stations, where there was any question 
of their free use by Negroes, where they 
were located away from the Negro sec- 
tions, or where they were so far from 
bus or train stations that the risk of miss- 
ing transportation back to camp was 
sufficient to make a soldier go directly 
to the station rather than out of his way 
for prophylaxis. Moreover, the leading 
citizenry, Negro as well as white, in many 
towns either had little interest in or 
were reluctant to participate in venereal 
disease control measures. In some 
towns, it was difficult to find a location 
for a prophylactic station which was 
not objected to by the citizenry. 11 

Even in areas where the May Act had 
been invoked, Negro rates continued 
high. The May Act permitted federal 
intervention in the control of prostitu- 
tion in areas around Army camps when 
local authorities were unable to act. 12 
Organized prostitution, against which 
the May Act was primarily aimed, was 
rare among Negroes in most areas, but 
available and willing women were not. 
The control measures of the May Act 
were difficult to enforce where the free 
lance prostitute, the bar girl, and the 
woman described only as "friend" were 

10 Memo, Capt James W. Fisher for Chief Experi- 
mental Sec, Research Br ASF, 2 Jan 45, AAF TIScE 
Div Files. 

11 Ibid.; Hist Tuskegee Army Air Fid From Con- 
ception to 6 Dec 41, AF Hist Div; Ltr, Hq Green- 
ville AAB to CG Third AF, Tampa, 29 Oct 42, AAF 
72C.1 Genito-Urinary, etc., Diseases, binder 1, 

12 U.S. Code, Title 18, sec. 51a. 



280 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



the major sources of infection. Even 
with well-planned precautionary meth- 
ods, rates might remain high. 

Despite its efforts at control, one engi- 
neer separate battalion located in a May 
Act area had twenty-four cases in five 
weeks out of an average strength of 
1,185 men, giving the battalion a rate of 
211 per thousand per annum. The 
twenty-four cases accounted for 277 man 
days lost from duty and training. This 
unit scheduled lectures by the battalion 
surgeon or exhibitions of venereal dis- 
ease prevention training films twice a 
month. Company commanders lec- 
tured on sex hygiene once a month. 
Platoon sergeants also lectured once a 
month. For purposes of dispelling fear 
of prophylaxis treatment, demonstration 
prophylaxis was given in every squad of 
the organization. Mechanical prophy- 
laxis kits were supplied to every man 
going on pass. Individual kits were 
given to each man going on overnight 
pass or furlough. Each man returning 
from pass was required to report to the 
dispensary and state whether or not he 
needed prophylactic treatment. The 
location of prophylactic stations was 
posted in every barrack. Posters adver- 
tising the value of prophylaxis were 
widely displayed. Passes were re- 
stricted as much as possible consistent 
with maintaining morale. And efforts 
were being made to provide sufficient 
recreation on the post to keep men away 
from the camp towns. Yet a number of 
factors limited the full success of this 
program. Following preventive in- 
structions was not easy for the men of 
this battalion. In the largest of the 
nearby towns the prophylactic facilities 
were hardly adequate. The colored 



station, approximately one mile from 
the center of the Negro district, while ac- 
cessible in the summer, was less so in the 
winter. The white station, more con- 
veniently located in the center of town, 
had refused admittance to several men 
of the organization who had applied for 
prophylaxis, thus reducing sharply the 
number of potential applicants. After 
remonstrances, the white station began 
to take Negro soldiers "provided they 
are not obnoxious to local civilians." 
Despite the fact that the rate in the Ne- 
gro organizations on the post was several 
times that of the white, the Control 
Board concluded, the preventive facil- 
ities, including recreational diversions, 
available for Negro soldiers were gener- 
ally Inferior to, and therefore less effec- 
tive, than those for whites. 13 

Surveys elsewhere uncovered similar 
problems. Standard remedies in addi- 
tion to venereal disease education pro- 
grams became, first, cleaning up 
surrounding camp towns, and second, 
furnishing increased on-post activities in 
order to reduce the number of ex- 
posures. 

With or without facilities that pro- 
vided "wholesome" recreation for sol- 
diers away from camps, most camp towns 
had enough of a tenderloin district to 
cause unit officers to despair of reducing 
their venereal rates. An officer of one 
Negro unit reported that conditions in 
the nearby camp town were "inimical 
to the efficiency, health, and welfare of 
soldiers." Prostitution was rampant in 
cafes in the Negro section; the restau- 
rants themselves were "especially un- 
clean." The officer reported: 

13 I.tr, IG Second Army to CG Second Army, 17 
Xov 42, and 3 Inds, AGF 333.1/53 Second Army. 



PHYSICAL FITNESS 



281 



As things go now a man going on pass 
has little to improve his morale. Buses are 
crowded. Hours may be spent to catch a 
bus. Our Negro troops are segregated in 
mixed buses. Little recreation is possible. 
Almost no good place to eat. At least one 
popular place is unsanitary. Vice is tempt- 
ing. This puts the soldier in a complaining 
frame of mind. The latter is especially in 
evidence in relations with our soldiers and 
the Military Police. . . . [There is an] 
apparent lack of interest in the Negro 
section by the [town] administrative offi- 
cers. 14 

In another town, most of the Negro 
houses of prostitution were located 
around the USO. The house across the 
street from the USO contained eleven 
girls, ten of them infected, Six of these 
had two diseases. 15 

In many towns, the Negro district was 
served by neither running water nor by 
a sewage system. This condition made 
simple sanitation difficult. It made the 
use of soap-impregnated prophylactic 
materials provided in Army kits almost 
impossible and certainly discouraging. 
In a few cases no hot water was provided 
in prophylactic stations, either in town 
or on post, with the result that soldiers 
would not use the stations. 16 Under 
these circumstances, preventive instruc- 
tions had little effect except among that 
portion of a command which heeded the 



14 Incl 4, S-2 333d FA to CO 333d FA, Cp Grubcr, 
Okla., io Feb 43; 1st Ind, 8th Hq Sp Trps Third 
Army to Ltr, Hq AGF to Third Army, 29 Jan 43, 
AGF' 726.1/74 (VD). 

16 Ltr, Maj George McDonald to Hq AAF, 21 
Jan 43, AAF 726.1 binder 2. The commander of 
the nearby post did not believe conditions were 
so bad as this and made McDonald specify loca- 
tions and describe them in detail. 

"Ltr cited n. 15; 1st Ind, 384th Engr Bn (Sep) 
to Ltr, IG Second Army, 17 Nov 42, AGF 333. 1/58 
(Second Army) ; Memo, Hq ASF for Chief Experi- 
mental Sec, Research Br I&E Div ASF, 2 Jan 45, 
in AAF TI&E Div Files. 



advice to remain continent. Where 
recreational facilities were as limited as 
they were in many towns and on many 
posts, and where troops felt that release 
from frustrations and pent-up emotions 
was necessary at any cost, such advice 
was not often heeded for long. 

The Fry Problem 

A special problem was that which ex- 
isted at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, training 
home of the two Negro infantry divisions 
and, before that, of the old Negro cavalry 
and infantry regiments. Located in the 
Huachuca Mountains of southeastern 
Arizona, Fort Huachuca had been a post 
since 1877. It had no camp town at all. 
The nearest towns were Bisbee, 35 miles 
away and 10 miles from the border; 
Douglas and Agua Prieta, 60 miles away 
on and across the Mexican border; 
Nogales, 65 miles away on both sides of 
the border; and Tucson, 100 miles away. 
Each of these towns, with the exception 
of Bisbee, was visited frequently by as 
large a number of troops as could get 
away on pass. 17 Prostitution was rife 
in most of them, though Tucson and 
Douglas had relatively few Negro prosti- 
tutes and only a small resident Negro 
population. The Mexican towns, with 
their tourist attractions and their bor- 
dellos, usually lying just outside of the 
city limits, and therefore subject to 
little municipal control, were patronized 
generously by soldiers from Fort Hua- 
chuca. The welcome there was warmer 
than in the Arizona towns. In Nogales, 



" Bisbee, a mining town, had few facilities for 
visiting soldiers, though it was nominally the post 
town. At its own request, it was placed off-limits 
to nonresident Fort Huachuca personnel. 



282 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



Sonora, for example, all but two dance 
halls and restaurants were open to Negro 
soldiers; they were "welcome to all the 
cantinas (bars) and cheap restaurants 
and particularly to the red-light district 
for which they represent its principal 
source of income." 18 Local fears, 
growing vice conditions, and mounting 
racial tensions gradually caused most of 
the Arizona towns, or major portions of 
them, to be closed at times to Fort 
Huachuca personnel. But the Mexican 
towns and the nearby unincorporated 
settlement of Fry, lying just outside the 
gates of the post, remained open. Fry 
offered, in exaggeration, all the allure, 
if none of the exotic glamor, of the Mex- 
ican towns. 

Because it was surrounded by a desert 
with no nearby communities and be- 
cause it was located in a part of the 
country with practically no Negro pop- 
ulation, Fort Huachuca, since the days 
when it was a frontier post garrisoned 
with Negro soldiers of the old regi- 
ments, had considered Fry a quasi- 
necessary adjunct. White Arizonians, 
thinking of Fry as a safety valve, tended 
to agree. In Fry lived women. Some 
of them were employees of the post and 
some were members of soldiers' and ci- 
vilians' families, but most of them— and 
sometimes the former were included in 
this number— were prostitutes and 
camp followers. As the post com- 
mander described it in 1942: 

The small town of Fry is dirty, unsani- 
tary and squalid. It has been so for many 
years. It was made worse in these respects 
during the construction of the cantonment 



18 Dispatch, L. S. Armstrong, American Consul, 
Nogales, Sonora, to Secy of State, iff Jul 42, No. 
375, in 93d Div Files 2gi. 



when two or three thousand white laborers 
were employed here. During this period, 
when a much lesser number of soldiers was 
stationed here, the expulsion of prostitutes 
from Fry was directed by the Commanding 
General, Eighth Corps Area. A consider- 
able number of prostitutes left, most of 
whom are believed to have drifted back in 
a short period of time. When the drive 
was on, soldiers, including N. C. O.'s, mar- 
ried a considerable number of prostitutes 
rather than see them leave. Some of this 
latter group are known to have continued 
to ply their trade. Following this action 
there was noticeable a restless and dis- 
gruntled attitude on the part of the soldiers 
which showed itself in various ways. White 
women in Fry became so alarmed with 
reference to their security that the unions 
at work on the cantonment threatened to 
have their laborers leave the job as they 
said they would not work where their fami- 
lies were not secure. I personally addressed 
mass meetings of these unions, guaranteed 
their families security and persuaded them 
to remain at work. 19 

As the numbers of laborers in Fry de- 
creased, the number of soldiers on the 
post increased, leading the post com- 
mander to observe that the number of 
prostitutes in Fry had probably in- 
creased, too, "as a natural reaction to 
the law of supply and demand." 20 
Many of them were transients arriving 
for a few days, renting or sharing a 
shanty, then leaving to return at a later 
date. 

Venereal disease control was at best a 
difficult problem, but with a Fry and its 
Blue Moon area, made up of tin shanties, 
lean-to's, and tents inhabited by an un- 
determined number of camp followers, 
the problem of control at Fort Huachuca, 
especially after the arrival of large units, 

10 1st Ind, Hq Ft. Huachuca to CG Ninth Sv 
Comd, 4 Aug 42, to l.tr, Ninth Sv Comd to CO Ft. 
Huachuca, 28 Jul 42, copy in 93d Div Files. 

20 Ibid. 



PHYSICAL FITNESS 



283 



became more difficult. Fry became 
widely known and discussed both at Fort 
Huachuca and elsewhere. The post 
commander admitted that, after consid- 
ering several possibilities, his sympathies 
lay with retaining Fry in an improved 
and regulated form. He believed that 
repression of prostitution in Fry would 
be a danger to surrounding communi- 
ties and to morale on the post. More- 
over, scattering prostitutes in an area 
where there were no communities that 
wished to receive them would be most 
difficult. To the post commander there 
were but three solutions to prostitution 
in Fry: 

a. What is in my opinion the best solu- 
tion, is prohibited by War Department 
policy. That solution is: Definitely segre- 
gated areas which the Federal, State and 
County health authorities can control and 
outside of which no prostitution would be 
permitted. With such a system, infected 
women could be put out of circulation and 
treated and the military authorities could 
arrange for every man entering such a 
segregated area taking prophylaxis treat- 
ments. 

b. The second solution is to let the 
prostitution situation drift along as I have 
found it and endeavor, with the cooperation 
of the Federal, State and County authori- 
ties, to arrange for the treatment of infected 
women and at the same time take every 
possible precaution by means of education, 
persuasion, and thoroughness in operations, 
to insure the greatest number of prophylac- 
tic treatments to men who become exposed. 

c. The third solution, is to entirely 
eradicate prostitution in the town of Fry 
and other towns visited by soldiers and to 
prohibit soldiers from entering Mexico. It 
is believed that little good would be ac- 
complished by prohibiting prostitution in 
Fry and permitting it to exist in other 
towns in the vicinity, including Mexico. 
Probably more harm than good would be 
done as we can control more definitely, 



prophylaxis treatments at Fry than we can 
in other towns. . . . 21 

With the first solution not approved 
by the War Department policy and the 
third one not feasible, Fry was left with 
the military authorities taking "every 
possible precaution," though a version 
of the first solution was briefly tried. 
Toward the end of 1942, since neither 
county nor state officials had moved to 
repress prostitution in the area, post 
authorities, with the co-operation of 
local civilian authorities, moved the 
more notorious and easily detected pros- 
titutes into a wire enclosure, carrying 
their shanties and tents bodily with 
them. This area, one of whose boun- 
daries was provided by the post's fenc- 
ing, became known as "The Hook." 
On the Fry side of the post all roads and 
paths from the bus station, the Gate 
theater, the USO clubs, and the Green 
Top, led directly to The Hook, whose 
gates, guarded by a military police 
checking station and a prophylactic sta- 
tion, the latter supplemented by another 
inside, saw hundreds of soldiers come 
and go daily. 22 

Meetings with residents of Fry were 
held in early 1943 at which it was ex- 
plained that both the laws of Arizona 
and the May Act gave sufficient author- 
ity to close every place in town. At one 
meeting, where over a hundred residents 
were present, the post commander an- 
nounced that the discussion was "not for 
those living a virtuous life with their 
family." Nobody left. 23 He then ex- 

21 1st Ind, Hq Ft. Huachuca lo CG Ninth Sv 
Comd, 4 Aug 42, papers in CSOIG 333.9 Ft. 
Huachuca, Ariz. (18) . 

~ Hq 92d Div to Unit CO's, 2 Jul 43, 726.1 g2d 
Div Files. 

23 Memo, Office Judge Advocate 93d Div for 
CG 93d Inf Div, 13 Jan 42, 93d Div Files 250. 



284 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



plained rules for the registry, photo- 
graphic identification, and weekly 
examination of every woman in The 
Hook. Nobody objected. 

Fry and The Hook, with their new 
regulatory measures, came to the atten- 
tion of other federal agencies and of 
civilian social hygiene associations. 
The regional Venereal Disease Control 
Committee, made up of representatives 
of the Army, Navy, U.S. Public Health 
Service, and the Federal Security 
Agency was less than satisfied with the 
Huachuca solution. At a meeting in 
Houston at the end of January 1943, 
representatives of the American Social 
Hygiene Association and the Federal 
Security Agency complained that so long 
as all officials of the Mexican border 
cities knew that Fort Huachuca was "con- 
ducting a stockade" the Pan American 
Sanitary Commission could hardly hope 
to establish effective border control of 
venereal disease. 24 Protests to the War 
Department that the post was violating 
Army directives brought action against 
the Huachuca solution. The Ninth 
Service Command, on orders from Army 
Services Forces, directed that Fort Hua- 
chuca stop using military personnel to 
control and examine prostitutes in Fry. 25 

The fences around The Hook were 
removed and repressive measures were 
again attempted. After the departure 
of the 93d Division in April 1943, many 
of the women residents left the area. 
Those remaining were ousted by the 
county sheriff in May. When, as part 
of the pressure against prostitution, one 

!1 Ltr, Surg (VDCO) AAF Gulf Coast TC to 
Maj Robert Dyar, Hq AAF, 29 Jan 43, AAF 726.1 
binder 2. 

25 Rad, Ninth Sv Comd to CO Ft. Huachuca, 13 
Feb 43, Ft. Huachuca 726.1. 



of the landowners in the area was per- 
suaded not to renew his leases and rental 
contracts, thus forcing the users of the 
land to move, another landowner leased 
or sold new land to the camp followers, 
who picked up their tents and shanties 
and started a new settlement a short 
distance from the old. Others moved 
to nearby towns. The local USO and, 
later, the newly constructed Fry Amuse- 
ment Center (the Green Top) helped 
matters, but Fry and vestiges of The 
Hook, still going under the same name, 
remained. To the new full-time post 
venereal disease control officer Fry 
seemed "the strangest situation in the 
American Army." No camp in Amer- 
ica, he continued, had "vice and 
corruption at its front door" like Fort 
Huachuca. Venereal disease might 
become a secondary matter in Fry, he 
concluded. "Soldiers entering the huts 
in that area may well bring into this 
camp the most dreaded diseases of 
modern times. From a public health 
point of view, typhus, the plague and 
cholera loom a serious menace and an 
actual possibility." 26 

After trying a number of other ex- 
pedients, including the medical exam- 
ination of all men entering or leaving it, 
Army authorities declared "the famous 
Hook area" and neighboring places 
off-limits to Fort Huachuca soldiers at 
"12 o'clock noon," Sunday, 22 August 
1943. 27 That afternoon the venereal 
disease control officer saw "unaccus- 
tomed thousands" of men in the stands 



26 Office VDC Ft. Huachuca to Post Surgeon, 10 
May 43, Ft. Huachuca 726.1 (VD Control) . 

- 17 Office VDC Ft. Huachuca, Venereal Disease 
Bulletin, 20 Aug 43; Ltr, g2d Inf Div Surgeon to CG 
VIII Corps, Browniyood, Tex., 28 Aug 43. Both in 
Ft. Huachuca 726.1 (VD Control) . 



PHYSICAL FITNESS 



285 



at the ball game and "countless hun- 
dreds" lined up in front of theaters. 
Fry was "all but a deserted village. In- 
fected prostitutes in The Hook, whose 
pockets in the past have bulged, were 
fleeing the area by the scores." 28 
Thereafter many of the women moved 
back to Fry, some returning to one or 
another house, others becoming tran- 
sient, using local taverns and the Green 
Top as soliciting points. 28 Some be- 
came mobile purveyors of their wares, 
cruising the surrounding area in auto- 
mobiles, often with their mattresses 
tied to the tops of their cars. 30 

Nevertheless Fort Huachuca, relying 
on its compulsory prophylaxis system, 
with men ordered to check in and out 
of prophylaxis stations when leaving or 
entering post or Mexican border areas, 
supplemented by an intensive educa- 
tional program and an extensive use of 
the off-limits power as main measures of 
control, did reduce its problem. The 
post's weekly Venereal Disease Bulletin, 
written with exceptional vigor and 
directness, was ordered read to all en- 
listed men at a formation before being 
posted on unit bulletin boards. The 
bulletin listed all new danger spots- 
local, on the border, and sometimes as 
far away as Memphis, Tennessee. Ap- 
peals made in the bulletin ranged from 
straight educational doctrine and the 
publication of comparative unit rates 
with honor rolls and black lists, through 
appeals to race pride, family honor, the 
future, religious considerations, and 
mere self interest, to sardonic attacks on 
the foolishness of the victim who, 
having been warned, continued to take 

28 Ft. Huachuca, VD Bull, 27 Aug 43. 

Ibid., subsequent issues. 
30 Ibid., 24 Dec 43. 



his chances. Intensive and unremitting 
campaigns for the last six months of 
1943 reduced the post's rate from ten 
times the Army standard to twice the 
standard at the end of the year. 31 The 
service command's venereal disease con- 
trol officer was able to write in Novem- 
ber, "everyone up here is most pleased 
with the way things are going." 32 

Fry was not alone among the towns 
which allowed relatively uncontrolled 
vice to concentrate, for much the same 
reasons, in their Negro districts. While 
the problem was not so large elsewhere, 
both because the number of troops was 
smaller and the isolation less, the ab- 
sence of community, and at times of 
command, support for cleaning up camp 
towns was a frequent obstacle to control 
measures. Civilian Negro communities 
in general were reluctant to become in- 
volved in antivenereal or other pro- 
grams which had connection, actual or 
implied, with local police and munici- 
pal authorities. "The answer," one 
Negro observer declared, "is racial fear 
and skepticism, which makes them want 
to be left alone and attend to their own 
business. In most things for commu- 
nity good they will tell you 'I don't want 
to interfere' or 'I don't want to be 
mixed up in it.' They want to stay 
hidden in the background and live a 
quiet life for themselves and family." 3S 
The resistance of Negro citizens to par- 
ticipation in venereal disease control 



31 Ibid., 9, 16, 30 Jul, 31 Dec 43. 

a2 Ltr, Maj Wayne W. C. Sims, MC, Ninth Sv 
Comd VDCO to Col E. B. Maynard, MC, Surg 
Ft. Huachuca, 12 Nov 43, Ft. Huachuca 726.1. 

33 Address, Maj. George McDonald, Negro Prosti- 
tution and Methods of Control, delivered before 
the Alabama State Conf on VD, State Capitol, 9 Jul 
43, Montgomery, copy in AAF 726.1 Genito-Urinary, 
binder 4, 



286 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



programs was overcome in a few com- 
munities, notably those with good 
general public health programs where 
the co-operation of white citizens and 
communities was available. Various 
devices to reduce the exposure risk 
among soldiers were tried. Appeals to 
race pride were common. One post bul- 
letin, announcing a venereal disease 
campaign slogan contest for Negro 
troops chided, ". . . the Negro has ex- 
celled in every phase of warfare except 
the control of V.D." 34 The First Air 
Force issued a pamphlet, "Who, Me?" 
especially for Negro soldiers. At some 
posts the unit with the best record got 
a trophy for excellence; on at least one 
post, the unit with the worst got a booby 
prize— a handsomely mounted eight 
ball. 3r> Still others tried various sys- 
tems of identifying nonprostitutes, with 
some areas of heavy incidence resorting 
to the use of "health cards," obtained 
from local physicians or clinics. At 
MacDill Field, Florida, all women visi- 
tors to the "Colored Area" of the field 
were required to have "V-ette" cards, 
obtained without charge at the Negro 
USO in Tampa. These cards, similar 
to those used for white visitors to the 
base, served as substitutes for passes 
issued by organizations. They were 
available after the local USO had 
checked several references and had as- 



14 VD Bull i, Keesler Field, Miss., July 1943. Also, 
Lecture on VD for Narration of a Proposed Film, 
Incl to 4th Ind, McDonald to Surgeon Tuskegee 
AAF, 17 Sep 43, on basic VDC Br Air Surgeon's 
Office to CG A A FTC Ft. Worth, 25 Aug 43, AAF 
726.1 Genito-Urinary Diseases, binder 4; Ft. Hua- 
chuca, VD Bull, 6 Jul 44 (vol. 2, No. g), Ft. Hua- 
chuca 726.1, 

m Ltr, Sdfridge Fid Station Hosp to Air Surgeon, 
14 Oct 43, AAF 736.1, binder 4. 



certained that the applicant was in good 
health. 8 ' 

The Tuskegee Program 

None of these varied plans and im- 
provisations worked so well as a pro- 
gram begun at Tuskegee Army Air 
Field, later prescribed for the Air 
Forces at large and, still later, in slightly 
altered form, for the Army as a whole. 
This program was essentially a combi- 
nation of measures already in effect at 
other places plus some innovations 
which were to spell the difference be- 
tween the success of the Tuskegee pro- 
gram and the failure of so many others. 

Tuskegee, essentially a flying school 
with roughly 1,300 men in addition to 
cadets, found its venereal rate climbing 
steadily through the first half of 1942. 
The post was located in a high civilian 
incidence area near several other air- 
fields and camps. As the military 
installations in the area expanded, in- 
fected women flocked to nearby towns 
where honky-tonks and dance halls of- 
fered easy pickings for the soldiers of 
Gunter, Maxwell, and Craig Fields, near 
Montgomery; Camp Rucker and Napier 
Field to the south; Fort Benning at 
Columbus; Fort McClellan, near Bir- 
mingham; and Tuskegee, halfway be- 
tween Montgomery and Columbus and 
not too far from Birmingham and 
Atlanta. 

30 Ltr, He. Cp Area MacDill Fid, Fla., to CO's 
All Cld Orgs, MacDill Fid, 26 Aug 43, no file 
No.; Ex L, Hist Rpt EAUTC MacDill Fid, 18 
Mar 43-1 May 44, folder 2, exhibits A-S, AF Hist 
Archives. In some towns, "health cards" were 
sources of numerous incidents of racial friction as 
women with soldier escorts were stopped and asked 
to show them. Cf. Memo, TIG for CofS, 4 Jun 43, 
AG 291.21/22; Frank Yerby, "Health Card," 
Harper's Magatine, CLXXXVIII (May, 1944), 548- 
53- 



PHYSICAL FITNESS 



287 



Tuskegee's new venereal disease con- 
trol officer, Maj. George McDonald, who 
had operated a successful municipal 
control program in Baltimore before 
entering the Army, found early that the 
simplest control measures— getting rid 
of infected women or of the places in 
which they were to be found— were not 
simple where Negro troops were con- 
cerned. "Some might argue," he told 
the Alabama governor's conference on 
venereal diseases, "that if we could get 
rid of the honky-tonks we would get rid 
of the chief meeting places of a large 
group of prostitutes. The answer to 
that was forcefully brought out to me 
during the beginning of our VDC Pro- 
gram. We found that fully 70 percent 
of all our venereal disease cases were 
contracted in Montgomery. We went 
to the Commanding Officer and seri- 
ously begged him to put Montgomery 
off-limits for our station. His answer 
was a question— 'Where else or what 
else have you got to offer in its place?' 
I must admit, I was stumped." 37 

The Tuskegee program emphasized 
a system of "subvenereal disease control 
officers" in addition to the usual pro- 
gram of films, lectures, and command 
discipline. The subvenereal disease 
control officers were enlisted men, 
mainly noncommissioned officers, thor- 
oughly trained in venereal disease con- 
trol theories and practice. Each unit 
contained one or more such officers, 
supplementing the normal program. 
As enlisted men, these workers were 
able to uncover considerably more in- 
formation concerning contacts in 
surrounding communities than the aver- 

37 Address, Maj. George McDonald, Negro Prosti- 
tution and Methods of Control, g Jul 43, copy in 
AAF 726,1 Gcnito-Urinary, binder 4. 



age commissioned officer could locate. 
Their lectures and discussions with 
groups of soldiers, plus pamphlets 
especially prepared for the men of the 
field, had greater effect than those of 
medical officers alone. Impetus to a 
reduction of rates was given by a peri- 
odic publication of the rates for each 
unit at the station, including compari- 
sons with rates of other units and 
stations in the training center, thus en- 
listing both local competition and racial 
pride on the side of VD control. Com- 
munications from the post commander 
to unit commanders stressed their re- 
sponsibilities for control as part of their 
over-all efficiency as commanders. Bet- 
ter planned and more frequent surprise 
physical inspections were instituted. 
Prophylactic kits were made readily 
available and demonstrations of their 
proper use were given frequently. 88 
Within a comparatively few months the 
Tuskegee program had reduced the 
station's rate from one of the highest in 
the area to one of the lowest— from 300 
to 400 per thousand per annum in the 
summer of 1942 to 20 and 28 in October 
and November, with the rate at the 
Primary Field falling to a flat zero in 
those months. 39 

After his success at Tuskegee, Major 
McDonald was requested by the Army 
Air Forces to make a tour of airfields, 

38 See A VDC Program for Colored Troops, AAF 
726.1. This mimeographed description of the pro- 
gram, with station unnamed, was distributed to 
service and training command headquarters, which, 
in some cases, reproduced it for fields, camps, and 
stations. See, for example, Ltr and Incl, Hq Ninth 
Sv Comd to CO's Posts, Camps, and Stations, 26 
Jul 43, 726a SPKIM. 

39 Off Def Health and Welfare Svs, Social Pro- 
tection Sec, Conf Bull II, 5 (8 Mar 43) ; Memo, 
Brig Gen Benjamin O. Davis for TIG, 6 Jun 44, 
AAF 333.1 Misc, Tuskegee. 



288 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



where he gave talks and demonstrations 
to Negro troops. At the same time, he 
made supplementary reports on the 
venereal disease situation as it existed 
in the areas surrounding the fields 
visited. 40 But, as he informed Army 
Air Forces headquarters when future 
lecturing trips were proposed for him, 
the amount of good coming from short 
term intensive work was purely tempo- 
rary. To be of lasting value, a program 
had to be in operation day in and day 
out. 41 

In May 1943, a special school for the 
instruction of noncommissioned officers 
in venereal disease control as developed 
at the field was authorized at Tuskegee. 
Men were sent to the successive courses 
of this school from all over the Air 
Forces and many of the fields with 
smaller units began to obtain more ef- 
fective results. 42 Both the Q2d Division 
and the post at Fort Huachuca instituted 
the subvenereal control system in mid- 
1943, helping reduce the rates at Fort 
Huachuca for the rest of the year. 43 

After the courses at Tuskegee became 
generally available, upon application 
for quotas, to all Air Forces stations— 



w Ltrs, AAF 726.1, binder 2 (1942-43). 

11 Ltr, Maj McDonald to Maj Julius R. Scholtz, 
Hq AAF, 2 Aug 43, AAF 726.1 Genito-Urinary, 
binder 4. 

"Ltr, ACofAS Pers Hq AAF to CG's AF's and 
AF Comds, 11 May 43, AAF 726.1; Ltr, Hq AAF 
to CO Tuskegee AAF, 17 Sep 43, AAF 726.1 Genito- 
urinary, binder 4; Rpt, Maj Robert Dyar, CofAAF 
VDC Br, to the Air Surgeon, no date, but lncl to 
Ltr, CofAS to CG's AAl SEATC, AAFTTC, 20 Jun 
43, AAF 726.1 Misc; Rpt of lnsp Trip to Third AF, 
31 Mar-2 Apr, 8 Apr 43, lncl to Ltr, Actg Air 
Surgeon to CG Third AF, 19 Apr 43, AAF 726.1 
Misc. 

"Ltr, Office Dir Med Div Ft. Huachuca to CO 
Ft. Huachuca, 25 Jun 43, 726.1; Ltr, Hq 92d Div 
to CO's All Units, 23 Jun 43, 726.1 GNMAM, Div 
Files. 



and to other posts that requested at- 
tendance for their men— failure to make 
use of the Tuskegee method was re- 
garded within the Air Forces as an 
indication of laxity in venereal disease 
control measures. Temporary schools, 
modeled on the Tuskegee curriculum, 
were set up both for white and for 
Negro students at other posts. 

The Tuskegee plan was officially ex- 
tended to the rest of the Army in 
expanded form after a conference on 
Venereal Disease Problems among 
Colored Troops, held by The Surgeon 
General on 13 October 1943. The new 
system of control, directed in February 
1 944, 44 went further when it authorized 
a Negro venereal disease control officer 
for military installations with a Negro 
strength of 5,000 or more. This officer 
was to serve as an assistant to the station 
venereal disease control officer. 45 His 
duties were: directing venereal disease 
education for colored personnel; secur- 
ing contact information from infected 
colored soldiers; supervising prophylac- 
tic facilities for Negro personnel; and 
maintaining close liaison with the post 
special service officer in providing recre- 
ation for Negro troops. 

Continuing and better educational 
aids were provided. Original educa- 
tional materials had paid little attention 
to the Negro phase of the problem as 
such. New r filmstrips included Negro 
materials as aids to recognition and 
awareness on the part of Negro troops; an 

"WD Cir 88, 2H Feb 44, Venereal Disease Con- 
trol Among N'egro Troops. 

46 During the last half of 1943, twenty stations, 
all Ground and Service Forces training centers, 
had 5,000 or more Negro troops, with the bulk of 
Negroes at stations with smaller numbers of troops, 
lncl 2 to Memo, SGO for TAG, 18 Dec 43, AG 
726.1 (18 Dec 43) (3) . 



PHYSICAL FITNESS 



289 



antivenereal disease film with Negro 
characters was produced. Pamphlet 
and poster material aimed at Negro 
troops, using Negro figures, were pro- 
duced locally and by central distribu- 
tion agencies. 

Compliance with the directive to 
furnish Negro venereal disease control 
officers at the larger camps proceeded 
slowly, with many of the officers coming 
directly from the Medical Administrative 
Corps' officer candidate schools. The 
stations successful in lowering their 
venereal disease rates were those w r hich 
developed continuing intensive pro- 
grams. Specific responsibility for the 
Negro program vested in one individual 
as a full-time job brought best results. 
Differences observed between two camps 
some months after the publication of 
the new system illustrated the need for 
comprehensive, continuous programs. 
Both stations were located in similar 
environments. Although neither was 
currently operating at the 5,000 strength 
required for the appointment of a Negro 
venereal disease control officer, the 
more successful station had had a 
regularly detailed Negro technical ser- 
geant—called locally the Health Educa- 
tor—performing the duties of such an 
officer for approximately two years. 
The sergeant conducted intensive 
courses in venereal disease control for 
noncommissioned officers of new units, 
utilizing lectures, projects, and practical 
problems as teaching methods. Efforts 
of the post were aided by the existence 
of a good venereal disease control pro- 
gram as a part of the larger public 
health program of the county in which 
the post and largest camp town were 
located. Two organizations, both 
known as "The Health Crusaders," 



were an important link between the 
county health agency and the commu- 
nity. The local white Young Men's 
Business Club adopted venereal disease 
control as its main community program 
for the coming year. The town's Negro 
ministers were either co-operative or at 
least not opposed to the program. All 
hostesses and junior hostesses at the 
USO received instructions concerning 
the program. The local prophylactic 
station was an unusually well-run one, 
with Negro medical technicians on duty 
twenty-four hours a day. The only dif- 
ficulties experienced at this post were 
an inability to obtain 100 percent use of 
the town dispensary by the men and an 
inability to obtain complete co-opera- 
tion from some company commanders 
w r ho, despite the offer of post assistance, 
remained lukewarm toward the pro- 
gram. 46 

The program at the second camp in 
the same general area was much more 
spotty and therefore less successful. At 
this post there was no continuing day 
in and day out stimulation by a special- 
ist. Attitudes and efforts, unit by unit, 
ranged from "spirited execution to neg- 
lect and lack of cooperation on the 
part of company officers." One com- 
pany officer, when asked about his unit's 
consistently high rate, told the visiting 
medical officer that he had never found 
himself unable to "write a satisfactory 
indorsement." The second camp, 
moreover, had less co-operative sur- 
rounding communities and less advan- 
tageously located prophylactic facilities. 
All three of the dispensaries maintained 
in the three nearby towns were used by 

*" Memo, Capt James W. Fisher for Chief Experi- 
mental Sec, Res Br ASF, % Jan 45, AAF TI&E 
Files. 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



white and Negro soldiers, two of them 
with separate waiting rooms and none 
of them located near the Negro sections 
of the towns. A fourth area visited by 
the men of the post was the nearest 
large town, with two dispensaries, one 
for whites and one for Negroes. Both 
were unattractive, u r ith dirt floors and 
inadequate space. Both were poorly 
located, with the Negro dispensary on the 
ground floor of the Negro USO building 
and the white station under a staircase 
in the rear of a police station. Both 
locations discouraged use. Attendants' 
hours at the Negro station were irregu- 
lar, with the result that Negro soldiers 
complained of being refused by the 
white dispensary when their station was 
closed. The saving factor of the second 
camp's program was that the towns 
frequented by its soldiers had fewer 
venereal disease contacts than the town 
frequented by the soldiers of the camp 
with the better program. Conse- 
quently, the lower rates at the first 
camp indicated that providing "direct 
and active assistance to units on the 
company level [was] the most impor- 
tant deterrent to contraction of venereal 
disease and the resulting high rates." 47 
The relatively more intensive meas- 
ures of control needed for Negro troops 
were constant and additional burdens 
for commanders. Instruction and con- 
trol was a continuing problem, both in 
training and overseas. Some com- 
manders connected high venereal dis- 
eases rates with increased pay rates 
coupled with the low AGCT scores of 
Negro troops; some found in them con- 
firmation of the inability of Negro troops 
to conform to standard mores and con- 



" Ibid. 



trols; and some viewed them as yet 
another example of innate differences 
between Negro and white troops. At 
times, therefore, the venereal situation 
among Negro troops helped bulwark 
initial resistance to the use and com- 
mand of Negro troops, and especially to 
the use of Negro officers. 

Specific instances reinforced this 
latter resistance in some units. Within 
a month of activation, one combat team 
of a division was faced with the prob- 
lem of what to do about three Negro 
officers hospitalized for venereal dis- 
eases. The fact that one case was a 
"recurrence" of an old infection of eight 
years standing did not help matters. 
Aside from the necessary paper work 
and discussion of the proper procedures 
to be followed under new regulations 
and policies for dealing with venereal 
cases, the symbolic dangers of the situa- 
tion to the division were clear. 48 Their 
regimental commander later requested 
that the officers be transferred, as "the 
fact of [their] treatment is generally 
known among the officers of the regi- 
ment and in all probability among the 
enlisted men also. ... It is believed 
the future usefulness of these officers in 
this regiment has been seriously im- 
paired." 49 No matter what action was 
taken the damage to the division, espe- 
cially in terms of relations between 
white and Negro officers and in terms of 
the respect of enlisted men for their 
Negro officers, had been done. 



48 Interoffice Rcf Sheet, g2d Inf Div Surgeon to 
CofS, 12 Nov 42, Q2d Div Files, sheet 2, No. 44. 

'"Ltr, CO 370th Combat Team to CC AGF, 23 
Nov 42, 92c! Div Files, sheet 2, No. 44. Two of the 
officers were court-martialed; sufficient evidence in 
the third case was not available for charges to be 
brought. 



PHYSICAL FITNESS 



291 



General Fitness for Full Duty 

While venereal diseases, as recorded 
by race on statistical charts in reports, 
were dramatically evident problems 
among Negro troops, they were not the 
sole concern of unit commanders in the 
area of health. Though the Negro vene- 
real rates remained high, the common 
complaint of commanders was not so 
much that excessive numbers of their 
men contracted venereal diseases, for 
the number of patients in a given unit 
at any one time was likely to be low 
despite the high rates indicated by the 
thousand men per annum count. The 
average unit was more likely to com- 
plain that the general physical fitness 
and stamina of its men was low. 

If it is assumed that Army physical 
standards were adhered to at induction 
stations for both Negroes and whites, 50 it 
is difficult to explain the apparently 
rapid physical deterioration of many 
Negro enlisted men after induction into 
the Army. A variety of factors- 
better dietary and sanitary surroundings 
than large numbers of Negro soldiers 
were accustomed to in civilian life, 
regulated physical exercise and devel- 
opment, adequate medical and dental 



50 Suggestions were made from time to time to 
the effect that the initial examinations of Negro 
registrants at some induction stations may not 
have been so carefully conducted as those for 
white inductees. If this was true, of course a higher 
percentage of men with undetected or unrecorded 
defects would have become available for induction. 
Sec Robert Wormser, "Race and Draft," The Na- 
tion, CLVI (May 29, 1943) , 790; Notes, ASF 5th 
Tng Con£, Cp Barkeley, Tex., 24-26 Oct 44, p. 
171, ASF Control Div Files; Lt. Col. Herbert S. 
Ripley, MC, and Maj. Stewart Wolf, MC, "Men- 
tal Illness Among Negro Troops Overseas," The 
American Journal of Psychiatry, CIII (January, 
•947) > 5°7- 



care 51 — should have, and undoubtedly 
did, raise the physical standards of many 
Negro soldiers. Yet the average Negro 
unit reported generally lower physical 
stamina among its enlisted men than the 
average white unit reported. 

Occasionally suggestions were made 
that Negro soldiers, especially those 
from the Deep South, had lower resist- 
ance that might be attributed to 
chronic deficiency diseases. In the 4th 
Cavalry Brigade of the 2d Cavalry Di- 
vision during freezing and subzero 
weather in the winter of 1942, there 
were over 200 cases of frostbite, ranging 
from minor freezing of ears, fingers, and 
feet to more serious cases. Eighteen 
serious cases, mostly of frozen feet, oc- 
curred in a single truck convoy of the 
10th Cavalry en route from Omaha, Ne- 
braska, to Fort Riley, Kansas. On the 
same occasion none of the thirty white 
truck drivers in the same convoy suf- 
fered frostbite. Moreover, during the 
same period in the remainder of the 
division, whose other components were 
white, there were only eight minor 
cases. Most of the Negro victims were 
from Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. 
Ignorance and faulty guidance on the 
part of troop leaders, ignorance or fail- 
ure to obey orders on the part of enlisted 
men, or inability of troop commanders 
to obtain replacements of worn-out or 
lost items of clothing may have played 
their part, but the fact remained that 



51 There were investigations of sporadic charges 
that the medical and dental care of Negro men 
were being neglected. These charges, usually made 
in letters o£ enlisted men, their relatives, or their 
friends to the White House or the War Depart- 
ment, were seldom sustained. See, for examples: 
Ltr, AGO to CG AAF, 17 Feb 44, AG 291.2 (9 Feb 
44) (1) ; Ltr, Hq AAF WCTC to CG AAF WCTC, 
31 Jul 43, AAF 201.601 Disability. 



292 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



many more Negro than white soldiers in 
the same command suffered from 
frostbite under the same conditions. 52 

Troops were generally less physically 
fit in the later years of the war when 
many men previously rejected were in- 
ducted into the Army. Progressively 
lower physical standards affected white 
units as well, but with a greater number 
of units in a given training command 
and a larger number of overhead instal- 
lation position vacancies to which men 
rejected during preparation for overseas 
movement (POM) could be sent, the 
problem was less concentrated than 
among Negro units. 

Moreover, in many Negro units large 
numbers of physically substandard men 
appeared long before the last phases of 
the w r ar. As of March 1943, less than a 
year after activation, the 93d Division 
had discharged 3,790 men— a full quar- 
ter of a division's authorized strength— 
for physical disabilities. Of these, 414 
were discharged with certificates of 
disability, 155 through Section VIII 
procedures, 53 and 3,221 through clear- 
ing field forces procedures for the phys- 
ically unfit. 54 Many other units 
complained of physically unfit men who 
either could not or would not pass the 
required physical tests. Many of these 
men were cast-offs shifted from unit to 
unit on successive transfers, becoming, 
as one training inspector expressed it, 
"one of a rotating pool, a border line 

52 Ltr, IGD (Lt Col McFarland Cockrill) to CG 
3d Cav Div, Cp Funston, Kans., 12 Jan 42, 2d Cav 
Div File 333, filed with 9th Armd Div Files. 

53 Section VIII, AR 615-300, provided for the 
discharge of constitutionally inapt and undesirable 
men. 

64 Memo, Maj Gen Fred W. Miller, CG 93d Inf 
Div, for Lt Gen Courtney H. Hodges, CG Third 
Army, 27 Mar 43, AGF 322/1 (93d Inf Div) . 



case subject to conflicting medical opin- 
ion, [who] bounces around like a pellet 
in a pin-ball machine, because he repre- 
sents a type that will do productive work 
only under constant supervision to say 
nothing of his contribution to the de- 
linquency records." 55 A company com- 
mander described the situation in his 
unit: 

There are some men in this Company 
who should not be in the Army, from the 
way they walk. Whether it is done on 
purpose or not I do not know but some of 
them walk on the side of their heels. We 
have one man who says he has to be wet all 
the time, that he cannot stand the heat, and 
gets excited quickly. Some of them are 
being written up now by the Medical Offi- 
cer for discharge. 56 

Of fifty filler replacements received at 
one post for use in committed units, 
tw r enty-five were physically unfit for 
overseas duty. One was blind in one 
eye with defective vision in the other; 
others had heart disease, high blood 
pressure, venereal diseases, or drug 
addictions. Granting that sending sta- 
tions tended to adjudge men more 
highly qualified than receiving stations 
did, this was a case requiring expla- 
nation. The surgeon of the sending 
station declared that these men were 
examined at his station and at general 
hospitals; they were believed to be 
eligible for full duty. Physically per- 
fect men were becoming scarce, he 
remarked, and added: "It must be re- 
membered that the type and class of 



65 Memo. Hq ASF for Dir Mil Tug ASF, 20 Jan 
44, SPTRU 333.1 (Engr). 

58 Statement, Lt Everett Paris, CO Co B, 378th 
Engr Bn, Freda, Calif., exhibit B, p. 7, Incl to 
Ltr, Asst IG Hq Desert Tng Center to CG DTC, 
11 Aug 42, AG 291.21 (7-17-42) (i)- 



PHYSICAL FITNESS 



293 



colored soldiers now being inducted is 
not what one would desire.'' S7 

A case might be made that some of 
the men in units, casual pools, and de- 
tachments who were considered phys- 
ically unfit did suffer from disabilities 
aggravated by military training and 
service or that, as physical standards 
were changed, men with limiting dis- 
abilities were brought into the Army too 
freely. During mid- 1943, when reclas- 
sifications out of Class IV— F (physically 
or mentally disqualified) were at a peak, 
proportionately more Negroes than 
whites were shifted from IV-F to classes 
eligible for induction. Twenty-three 
percent of the men placed in Class IV- 
F during this period were Negroes, but 
36 percent of those leaving IV-F for 
induction were Negroes. Many of these 
men had previously been rejected under 
higher physical standards; others had 
been administratively rejected as being 
in excess of permitted quotas of limited 
service men, syphilitics, and illiterates 
which the Army could accept. 58 One 
officer, observing large numbers of them, 
commented: "These men, having been 
told they were unfit several times be- 
fore, believe they are still unfit for 
military service and spend much of their 
time attempting to convert the Army 
to their point of view." 59 

Willfully or otherwise, the mental 
attitudes of these men played a large 

67 Ltr, CO Cp Rucker, Ala., to CG Fourth Sv 
Comd, 24 Jan 44; Ltr, Surgeon Cp Gordon 
Johnston to CG ASFTC, Cp Gordon Johnston, 
Fla., 9 Feb 44, and Inds and Incls to both Ltrs, 
Hq Cp Rucker, Ala., 333.1. 

59 Physical Examination of Selective Service Regis- 
trants (Selective Service System Special Monograph 
15, 1947), I, i58f. 

59 Memo, Capt William B. Bryant for Chief Fid 
Sv Br, I&E Div ASF, 7 Mar 45, Wyo., A-AF TI&E 
Files. 



part in their low physical state. By the 
end of 194a nearly a third of the pa- 
tients on medical wards at Fort Hua- 
chuca were already exhibiting signs of 
combined mental and physical illnesses, 
heightened, one observer felt, by con- 
tacts with other patients which pro- 
duced a monotonous repetition of 
similar "simple patterns of psychogenic 
symptoms." The report specified: 

About 30 percent of the patients occupy- 
ing beds assigned to the medical service had 
psychogenic symptoms produced by the 
desire to get out of the Army. These 
symptoms were seldom referrable to the 
emotional or intellectual sphere and thus 
complicated psychoneu roses were rare. A 
few patients had neurocirculatory asthenia. 
The majority complained of sticking pains 
at the left nipple, pain in the chest, short- 
ness of breath on exertion and pains in the 
legs. A few complained of nervousness and 
would begin to shake for the examiner's 
benefit. The remainder complained of 
back pain, pains in the extremities, or of 
pains in old surgical wounds or in scars 
of injuries or in old injuries all of which 
had been dormant for years before induc- 
tion. Thus the heart, the back and the 
extremities, or old scars and injuries were 
the loci to which the primitive minds pro- 
jected the symptoms born of a desire to 
escape. 60 

Few of these patients, even when they 
had only minor difficulties that were not 
sufficient to make further combat train- 
ing unprofitable, showed any desire to 
keep up with training. 

Though medical officers could seldom 
find cogent reasons for the poor phys- 
ical condition of many of the complain- 
ing men, they were equally unsuccessful 
in any significant number of cases in 
proving willful shirking of tasks requir- 

60 Ltr, Asst to Dir Mil Pers Div Ninth Sv Comd 
to CG NSC (The Surgeon) , 28 Dec 42, copy in Ft. 
Huachuca 333.1 Insps-Post Camps Stations. 



294 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



ing physical endurance. Many unit 
officers and some medical officers were 
nevertheless convinced that malinger- 
ing, and not physical disorders, was the 
answer to the complaints of many of the 
soldiers. In the absence of proof of 
malingering or of medical reasons for 
transfer or discharge, the "sick men" 
became liabilities to their units. 
"Malingering is about to run me crazy," 
one infantry battalion commander 
commented. "There are entirely too 
many 'cripples'— men complaining of 
. . . 'hurting' in de grine and . . . 
misery in de back.' You take them 
over to the medics. The medics may 
say they're all right, but they'll continue 
their limping. You don't know what 
to do with them." 61 One of this of- 
ficer's company commanders declared: 

You may watch most any company com- 
ing off the field and you'll see a line of from 
five to twenty-five stragglers or 'cripples.' 
They will fall out on the march, go over 
and sit under a mesquite bush, laugh and 
talk, and yell at other men to come and fall 
out with them. They are by no means 
whipped; they have stamina left. But they 
have not the pride in themselves as men 
and soldiers to go ahead and finish the 
march. 62 

Other commanders were similarly 
convinced that many complaints of phys- 
ical disabilities were willful evasions of 
duty or were faked to avoid passing in- 
spections for overseas readiness— a cer- 
tain indication of low unit and 
individual morale where it occurred. 



01 Maj Ralph L. Todd, CO ist Bn 365th Inf Regt, 
gad Div, to AGF Hist Off (Maj Bell I. Wiley) , 20 
Jun 44, quoted in Wiley, The Training of Negro 
Troops, AGF Hist Study No. 36. 

a2 Ltr, CO Co D 1st Bn 365th In£ Regt, formerly 
of the 25th Inf, g2d Div, to AGF Hist Off, 19 Jun 
44, AGF Hist Study No. 36. 



One service commander observed of the 
men in a battalion which had already 
been twice rejected for overseas service: 

Recently, one of my inspecting officers, 
who had so far not appeared at that partic- 
ular unit, was mistaken by my colored 
friends for one of General Peterson's inspec- 
tors. About five or six of them promptly 
told him reasons why they were not fit for 
overseas duty. Five of them claimed they 
had physical defects. A couple more of 
them had never fired their weapons. They, 
of course, were promptly checked. The 
five had never appeared on sick call. They 
were re-examined and found to be excellent 
physical specimens. The other two men 
had certainly fired their rifles, and had 
done very well, incidentally. 03 

Some camps separated the chronic 
complainers into special casual or "ZI" 
units in order to minimize their effect 
on other soldiers. Some of these special 
units grew large toward the end of the 
war; others, aided by a supervised 
change in mental outlook, had a re- 
markably high percentage of restora- 
tions to physical fitness. A training 
center commander reported his experi- 
ence with the latter: 

I had a lot of trouble with the people 
that were basically malingerers. The thing 
I was most concerned with was that they 
were like bad apples in the barrel. Every 
time one of them went along chinning 
himself on the ground, he got the other 
fellows feeling bad, and they got to going 
around the same way. . . . Every time I 
saw a malingerer, I grabbed him up. I set 
up a rest camp or special training camp for 
them at a mountain about 35 miles west. 
It is up at an elevation of 8300 feet, 35 
miles from the nearest road or railroad. 
We told them there were a lot of bears in 
the mountains, too. 



81 Maj Gen Sherman Miles, CO First Sv Comd, 
18 Feb 44, in Rpt, ASF Conf of CG's Sv Comds, 
Dallas, Tex., pp. 141-42, ASF Control Div Files. 



PHYSICAL FITNESS 



295 



I obtained a medical officer, a psychia- 
trist, a dietitian, and a physical trainer that 
Colonel McDonald [station hospital] hired 
for me, and sent them all up there for per- 
fect service. If a man had a bad arm, he 
got exercises all day long, especially pre- 
scribed to develop the arm. Most of the 
fellows were very bad off. If it was a bad 
leg, they got leg exercises; if it was their 
backs, they got back exercises; all prescribed 
by a professional physical trainer. If they 
had too many pains, that probably were 
caused by acid in the system— too much 
meat— they got a special diet— and they did 
not get pork chops. 

We put the lights out at nine P.M., so 
they had plenty of sleep. They needed 
their rest, so they got it. I made quite a 
few cures. We have run about 900 men 
through there so far, and the system has 
proved fairly fruitful. It worked out well. 

The people I have down in the main 
camp now are doing all right. I get very 
few of these sick ones any more, and Satur- 
day before I came down here, I was able 
to close the rest camp. . . , 84 

But not all commands were so success- 
ful in dealing with the physically un- 
fit. The 92c! Division in July 1944, 
after the departure of its 370th Combat 
Team for Italy, and on the eve of its 
own movement to a port of embarka- 
tion, still had 1,700 men who were not 
physically qualified for combat, many 
of them POM rejects of the 2d Cavalry 
Division, the 364th Infantry, the 366th 
Infantry, and half a hundred other mis- 
cellaneous units. 65 How these men got 
into the division was not always clear. 
Some of them had come on orders is- 
sued by neither Fourth Army nor by 



84 Statement of Brig Gen Horace L. Whittaker, 
in Notes, ASF Fifth Tng Conf, Cp Barkeley, Tex, 
24-26 Oct 44, p. 107, ASF Control Div Files. 

05 Ltr, Hq g2d Inf Div to CG Fourth Army, si 
Jul 44, 92c! Div Files, 220.31-D; Memo, Enl Div, 
G-i Sec, Hq AGF, for CofS AGF, 16 Aug 44, AGF 
333- 1 / 1 (92d Div.) 



Army Ground Forces. But that they were 
men culled from other units was abun- 
dantly clear. Many, upon arrival, had 
already been classified as physically un- 
fit for full service. As the division pre- 
pared for overseas movement, the 
number of such men showed signs of 
growing larger. By August it had 
reached 2,000. A covey of colonels, 
white and Negro, including a medical 
officer, some from Fourth Army and oth- 
ers detailed by Army Ground Forces 
from Washington and from other field 
units, descended upon Fort Huachuca to 
investigate, assess the situation, and 
make recommendations. 

They found that the division had re- 
ceived, in the preceding twelve months, 
6,242 enlisted men from 61 other or- 
ganizations. In the same period it had 
sent out to other organizations 2,243 en ~ 
listed men as replacements. The divi- 
sion had sent out better men than it 
had received. Its casual detachment, 
despite discharges and the arbitrary re- 
turn of 10 percent of the men to each 
organization, was filled with unfit men. 
Most of them had been tried in as many 
as three position vacancies within the 
division. Upon discovery, on marches 
or maneuvers, that they could or would 
not keep up, these men were given med- 
ical examinations. The casuals were of 
two general types: Class C and D men, 
medically certified to be in the poorest 
physical condition and therefore eligible 
for clearance from tactical organizations; 
and "Q-minus" men, medically qualified 
personnel who nevertheless failed to pass 
physical tests. Of the 2,272 men re- 
ported to be in this camp by the Fourth 
Army, about 950 were rated Class "Q- 
minus." 

The casual camp, separate and at some 



296 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



distance from the division area, was self- 
supporting as to messing, housing, and 
administration, though the men were 
still carried on their organizations' rolls. 
No training was given them, but they 
did furnish their own and some division 
details. They required additional offi- 
cer and noncommissioned officer super- 
visors, but nevertheless until the first 
week of August there was insufficient 
leadership personnel to exercise full dis- 
cipline and control. "Generally these 
men moved slowly to their assigned tasks, 
dragging or limping as their illness, 
feigned or real, dictated," one of the 
investigating colonels reported, "If 'al- 
lergic' to wearing helmet liner, shoes, 
leggings, belts, they were required to 
carry them along wherever they 
went." 66 One result of this policy was 
described by a group of observers: 

The men were observed to form ranks 
slowly. Some of them carried their helmets 
instead of wearing them, others carried 
their shoes instead of having them on their 
feet, wearing low cut shoes instead, and 
some were carrying chairs, suit-cases, and 
other impedimenta. Many of the shoes 
were cut open over the toes or were un- 
laced. Some of the men- wore no socks. ^ 
The men did not march in cadence. Many 
of them limped and some were stooped or 
bent at the waist. 67 



M Memo, Col Edward O. Gourdin [CO $jsd 
Inf Regt] to CG AGF, 17 Aug 44, AGF 333.1/1 
( 9 2d Div). 

m Memo, Maj John S. Tarr, IGD Fourth Army 

{Lt Col Thomas A. O'N'eil, Actg G-i, Lt Col 
William E. Wilkinson, MC, and Capt Jones B. 
Huskey, lnf, all of Hq Fourth Army concurring), 
for CofS Fourth Army, 10 Aug 44, AGF 333.1/1 

(gzd Div) . For accounts of men bent at the waist 
see P. G. Hamlin, "Camptocormia: The Hysterical 
Bent Back of Soldiers," Military Surgeon, XCI1 

{March, 1943) , 295-300; Lt Col S. A. Sandler 
"Camptocormia: A Functional Condition of the 
Back in Neurotic Soldiers," War Medicine, VIII 

(1945) , 36-45. Thirteen of the 19 soldiers studied 



Placing the potentially reclaimable 
with the actually unfit aggravated the 
problem to such an extent that it was 
doubted that any of these men were by 
then of future value to the Army. Ob- 
served one of the inspecting colonels: 

The retreat formations where these men 
are allowed to move at will to the parade 
ground, instructed to sit down in formation 
if they can not stand and to move back to 
their areas at will ... is a spectacle that is 
not only devastating to morale, but is giv- 
ing aid and comfort to these men in their 
beliefs of being physically unfit, and from 
which, it will be most difficult for them 
to recover. 68 

Said another: 

When the men present marched off the 
field, all took up a peculiar, shuffling gait 
of a nature which the undersigned has 
never before seen, ft was beyond the pos- 
sibility of any coincidence that all men in 
ranks should be so afflicted as to be unable 
to march off the field at a gait faster than 
about one-half mile per hour. 69 

Officers, medical and line, white and 
Negro, were often convinced that many 
of these men were physically fit and 
that they should not be discharged but 
made to work at noncombat assignments, 
preferably overseas, for the good of the 
morale of the rest of the Q2d Division. 
"This Casual Detachment now consti- 
tutes a menace to the morale of the 
Division," one medical officer declared: 

Right now we are having trouble in pre- 
venting men with hitherto good records 
from going over to join it. I believe it 
would be a mistake to discharge this large 



by Sandler were Negroes. Most recovered when 
told they were to be discharged. 

08 Memo, Col Anderson F. Pitts [IGD Second 
Army] for CG AGF, 16 Aug 44, AGF 333.1/1 (g2d 
Div) . 

30 Memo, Col X. P. Morrow [Hq AGF] for CG 
AGF, 14 Aug 42, AGF 333.1/1 (gad Div). 



PHYSICAL FITNESS 



297 



number of men as undesirables; neither 
should they be assigned to soft jobs. It is 
true there are some borderline physical 
cases, which can and should be sorted out, 
by more careful examination. The great 
majority of these men are malingerers; they 
should be forced to do duty involving 
some hazard and hard work. ... It is too 
bad the division did not proceed direct 
overseas at the end of maneuvers. 70 

Unproved but persistent rumors that 
these men, when on pass or when visit- 
ing nearby Fry where they were no 
longer under the surveillance of officers, 
were quite able to move with an 
alacrity and ease markedly absent 
during duty hours lent further support 
to these views. There was no sugges- 
tion that general medical care at Fort 
Huachuca was not of the best; reports 
on this camp throughout the war com- 
mented on the excellence of the medical 
equipment and staff at its two hos- 
pitals. 71 

While there were differences of opin- 
ion on the number of men who were 
true malingerers, all observers agreed 
that physical and mental ills were com- 
bined in the cases of many of these men 
and that grouping them together had 
made their ills, real or fancied, a fixed 
part of their behavior. All had taken 
on the liabilities of the others, magnify- 
ing their own disabilities in the shadow 
of the continuing complaints of their 
neighbors. The investigating officers' 
conclusions ranged from a belief that 
the physical disability of these men 
would be difficult to determine to esti- 

™Capt Jame s K. B atts, MC, 365th Inf, quoted 
in Memo cited |n. Gijj 

71 For examples, see Rpt, Surgeon Consultant 
Ninth Sv Comd for TSG, 5 Jul 44; Rpt of Ortho- 
pedic Consultant for TSG, 22 Aug 44; Ltr, Con- 
sultant in Surgery Ninth Sv Comd Surgeon for TSG, 
8 May 45. All in SPRSM 333.1 Ft. Huachuca. 



mates that from 10 to 85 percent of the 
men were consciously malingering. 

Since so large a proportion of the men 
in this casual camp had had one or more 
venereal diseases, it occurred to some 
that residual infections might be at the 
root of the problem. "I was definitely 
assured by the Division Surgeon," an 
observer reported, "that this was not the 
case. He pointed out that the type[s] 
of cases to which I referred were in all 
cases proper cause for discharge from 
the service, so that this source of disease 
could be eliminated from our considera- 
tion in regard to this personnel." 72 

That many of the men chronically 
complaining of their physical inability 
to perform normal duties were suffering 
from more than the elementary physical 
disorders of which they complained was 
undoubtedly true. One Army psychi- 
atrist, writing on the general problems 
of maladjusted soldiers, both white and 
Negro, indicated that "It is remarkable 
that the clinical picture in maladjusted 
soldiers is almost stereotyped. The pat- 
tern may be compared with schizoid re- 
action types. His behavior is marked 
by a more or less manifest hostility to 
the Army, a feeling of ill health, and 
an inability to perform duties or get 
along with fellow soldiers." Among the 
case histories which he cited were the 
following: 

A 25 year old Negro recently inducted 
complained of pains and stiffness in his 
back following a spinal tap at induction. 
In addition, he had difficulty in breathing 
with his gas mask on. He had feared 
entry into the Army because he had heard 
that he would be mistreated and probably 
shot if he came to a Southern Camp. After 



72 Memo, Enl Div G-l Sec, AGF, for CofS, 16 
Aug 44, AGF 333.1/1 (92d Div) (Incl) . 



298 



THE EMPLOYMENT OF NEGRO TROOPS 



being in the Army for 3 months and finding 
everyone friendly he felt better, and had 
less pains in his back. He was transferred 
to the Special Development Unit but after 
two weeks he was complaining of weakness 
of his bladder which he blamed on cold 
weather. 



A 33 year old colored soldier [had] com- 
plainis of pains in the chest. . . . He had 
innumerable conflicts because of a prejudice 
concerning his own race. He felt that he 
was quite a bit better than most other 
negroes. At the same time, discrimination 
bothered him. He was not able to get 
along well on his Post with other soldiers 
since he felt superior to them and it both- 
ered him that he had to live with them or 
was treated in the same way. At the time 
of his examination he was assigned to work 
on a salvage truck. This work evidently 
did not satisfy him. This was in contrast 
to the real situation, since in civilian life 
he never had much of a job. 73 

Few units were equipped to deal prop- 
erly with men whose physical ills had 
a psychological basis. But that all men 
who had been transferred to casual de- 
tachments as physically unable to keep 
up with their units' training should have 
been so disposed of was also question- 
able. Some organization commanders 
had used the existence of casual detach- 
ments as a means of getting rid of men 
who, with better training, might have 

ra Capt, Morris H. Alder, "The Management of 
the Maladjusted Soldier at the Basic Training 
Center," Journal of Clinical Psychopathology, VII 
(April, 1946), 713-29. See also Maj. Isidor Weiss, 
"Psychoses in Military Prisoners," Journal of Clin- 
ical Psychopalhology, VIII (April, 1947), 689-^705; 
William C. Meiminger, Psychiatry in a Troubled 
World (New York: Macmillan, 1948) 214-31; Lt. 
Col. Herbert S. Ripley, M.C., O.R.C. and Maj. 
Stewart Wolf, M.C., O.RC, "Mental Illness Among 
Negro Troops Overseas," American Journal of Psy- 
chiatry, C1II (January, 1947), gio; Capt. Rutherford 
B. Stevens, M.D., "Racial Aspects of Emotional 
Problems of Negro Soldiers," loc. cit., pp. 493- 
98; Memo, Col Edward O. Gourdin for CG AGF, 
17 Aug 44, AGF 333.1/1 (9sd Div) . 



been able to come up to performance 
standards. Once the men were shunted 
to casual detachments progressive de- 
terioration set in. 74 

The disposition of the physically un- 
fit devolved upon the service commands 
as units moving overseas transferred 
their substandard men. With few 
overhead installation vacancies and with 
increasing complaints from training 
centers that the Negro soldiers being re- 
ceived from ground unit transfers were 
usable neither in technical units nor in 
those performing heavy labor, the serv- 
ice commands were at a loss to absorb 
these men. While discharge provisions 
had been liberalized, there were no 
provisions for the discharge of men 
classified physically fit for general serv- 
ice. Moreover, there were not enough 
zone of interior assignments to absorb 
the genuine limited assignment Negro 
personnel gathering in service command 
installations. 

The Army eventually disposed of 
most of these men through a new pro- 
cedure which authorized the discharge 
of all enlisted men below the minimum 
physical standards for induction for 
whom no suitable assignment was avail- 
able. 75 When added to the prevailing 
means of discharge for physical or men- 
tal disability, inaptness, undesirable 
habits or traits of character, conviction 
by a civil court, and convenience to the 
government, the route for discharge of 
most surplus men, including the excess 
of physically unfit Negroes, was open. 
During the war years, discharges as 
physically and mentally unfit accounted 

71 Memos, Col Anderson Pitts for CG AGF, 16 
Aug 44, and Col Edward O. Gourdin for CG AGF, 
17 Aug 44, AGF 333-i/» (g2d Div), 

75 WD Cir 370, 1944. 



PHYSICAL FITNESS 



299 



Table 8 — Separations of Negro Enlisted Men by Selected Causes 
December 1941-May 1945 



Year 


Honorable 


Other 
Tha n 
Honorable* 


Transfers 
To Inactive 
Status 
"Less Over 28" 


Total 
Separations' 1 


Physical 
and Mental 
Disquali- 
fication* 


Misc. 

(Honorable) 
Over 28; 
Overage ; 
Retiredt 


Total 

1941 (December) 

1942 

1943 

1944 

1945 (Through Mavl 


131,221 


15,639 


13,222 


8,202 


168,284 


(77.9) 
276 

5,497 
51,807 
58,824 
14,817 


(9.3) 

24 
169 
13,062 
1,530 
854 


(7.9) 
18 

427 
2,889 
7,546 
2,342 


(4.9) 

50 
127 
7,049 
845 
131 


(100.0) 
368 
6,220 
74,807 
68,745 
18,144 



Includes certificate of disability and inaptness or neurosis. 

6 Includes non-Army commissions, to enter USMA, USNA, and USCGA, minority, dependency, importance to national 



health, safety or interest, and others. 

c Includes undesirable habits, misconduct, and concealment of desertion, or discharge other than honorable. Dropped 
from the rolls, resulting from AWOL, not included in separations. 

A All figures exclude battle and nonbattle deaths, missing, prisoners of war, interned, declared dead, separated to accept 
Army commissions, and demobilization discharges. 

Source: Strength of the Army, 1 Jul 45, STM-30. 



for more than three fourths of all Negro 
separations, excluding casualties, de- 
mobilization separations, and discharges 
to accept commissions. 76 (Table 8) 

Nevertheless, in the summer of 1945 
the problem of the disposition of "left- 
over" personnel medically declared fit 
for service still remained. From Fort 
Huachuca alone, between five and six 
hundred men, described as individuals 
"who would not work and who would 
not let anyone else work" had been or- 
ganized as a provisional ordnance com- 
pany and sent to Umatilla Ordnance 
Plant, Oregon, where they were found 
to be "entirely unsatisfactory." They 
were returned to Fort Huachuca by the 
Ninth Service Command for disposition. 
Some 185 more were due in from a 
California station. Four disposition 



™ The percentage of all men separated from the 
Army as physically and mentally unfit during the 
same period was 42 percent. (Strength of the Army, 
1 Jun-i Jul 45.) 



teams were busily engaged at the station 
hospital examining these men. 77 

The problem of physical fitness, with 
the venereal diseases as its constant com- 
ponent and with physical and psycholog- 
ical deterioration an increasingly wide- 
spread phenomenon in units, was clearly 
a major one in the employment of Negro 
troops in World War II. It played a 
continuous and distinctive role, both in 
the selection and in the later use of Ne- 
gro manpower by the Army. It slowed 
up training. It impeded the prepara- 
tion of Negro units for overseas move- 
ment. It consumed disproportionate 
time on the part of commanders and of 
medical and personnel officers. And 
throughout the war it affected another 
and even more difficult problem to as- 
sess—the general morale and motiva- 
tion of Negro troops and units. 

" Ltr, Deputy Chief for Hospitals and Domestic 
Opns to TSG (through CO Ft. Huachuca, CG NSC), 
8 Jun 45, Ft. Huachuca 333.1 Insp— Post, Camp, Sta- 
tions, Hospitals. 



CHAPTER XI 

Morale 



Concern with the importance of high 
morale to training and utilization of 
troops was more widespread in World 
War II than in previous wars. 1 Increas- 
ingly the War Department realized that 
success in training and employing Negro 
troops depended as much upon measures 
to improve morale as upon attempts to 
improve leadership and methods of 
training per se. Efforts to improve the 
conditions and terms of service of Negro 
troops, with the hope that their morale 
and motivation would thereby be im- 
proved, were assiduously made after the 
middle of 1942. These efforts consti- 
tute a distinct phase in the story of 
Negro troop employment in World War 
II. 

The sources of low morale among Ne- 
gro troops were many. Some were sim- 
ilar to those affecting all troops; others 
were unique. For Negroes, conditions 
changed on given posts as successive post 
and unit commanders arrived and de- 
parted. The fact that rules and prac- 
tices applying to Negro troops, to their 
relations with white troops, and to their 
use of camp facilities varied so widely 
from post to post and from time to time 
on the same post was itself a major con- 
tribution to low morale. 

On a new and unfamiliar post, the 

1 See History of the Special Services Division, 
ASF, and History of the Information and Educa- 
tion Division, ASF, MSS in OCMH. 



first few days could be filled with dis- 
turbing questions for the Negro soldier 
who wished to avoid embarrassment and 
possibly serious entanglements with lo- 
cal rules and customs. Would he be 
served if he tried to make a purchase at 
the main post exchange, or was there a 
special branch exchange for Negro units? 
Which theater, which bus stop, which 
barber shop could he use? Where co